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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Accused shooter of two teenagers was being threatened by street gang, defense lawyer says

07:36 | ,

Syracuse teenager accused of shooting two other youths last week thought the victims were armed and members of a street gang that had been threatening him, his defense lawyer said today. Defense lawyer Donald VanStry said Jaquell Greer believed Sherron Jones and Quavon Cosby were reaching for weapons of their own when he shot them about 5 p.m. June 25 in the 400 block of Rich Street. Greer, 17, of Glenwood Avenue, was supposed to be back in Syracuse City Court today for a preliminary hearing on charges of first- and second-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. But VanStry decided to waive Greer's right to that hearing and have the case proceed directly to a grand jury for review. VanStry also said he is waiting for the case to turn into a homicide as one of the victims is reportedly being kept alive on life-support equipment at Upstate University Hospital. Police have said Jones remains in extremely critical condition in the hospital. Court papers filed with Greer's arrest last week indicated Jones suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg that damaged his femoral artery, causing extensive blood loss and the need for artificial life support at the hospital. VanStry said he has been told by authorities that the case against Greer likely will be upgraded to a homicide if Jones is removed from life support and dies. Senior Assistant District Attorney Melinda McGunnigle said she has been provided a similar assessment of Jones' medical condition from police. According to VanStry, Greer contends he was trying to get away from Jones and Cosby, both 16, when he thought he saw them reaching for weapons in the waistbands of their pants. That's when Greer pulled out a handgun and fired shots at the two youths, the lawyer said. VanStry said Greer is not a member of any street gang but was hanging around with some youths who are street gang members. Greer reportedly stole a handgun from the home of one of the gang members and that is why the gang members had been threatening him, leading up to the Rich Street shooting incident, the lawyer said. Greer was being chased by gang members Thursday afternoon when he kicked in the door to a home on Robineau Road to get away from them and ended up being caught inside the residence by police, VanStry said. McGunnigle said that's the story Greer reportedly told police when he was caught and then charged in the earlier shooting. Cosby, the second victim of that Rich Street shooting, suffered a gunshot wound to the right arm. But he ended up being charged with stealing 18 handguns, ammunition and a television during a June 23 break-in at a home on Empire Avenue in Syracuse. Cosby also was due back in City Court today for a preliminary hearing in his burglary case, but defense lawyer Laurin Haddad said the prosecution was expected to have a grand jury take action against Cosby before the end of the day to avoid having to hold that hearing.

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