Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT -- A Falls man, accused of shooting a 2-year-old child in the face, has been given two more weeks to get a new lawyer.
Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III told Willie “Boo” Scott, and his mother, that if they did not have a new lawyer hired by April 4, he would assign one to handle the case.
“Then you’ll have to still pay the lawyer, but you won’t get to chose the lawyer. So get that done,” Murphy told them.
Murphy ordered Scott’s previous defense attorney, Angelo Musitano, removed from the case because of a “conflict of interest.”
“It is with great reluctance that I do this,” Murphy said in issuing the order. “But under the facts and circumstances of this case, there is a conflict of interest.”
Prosecutors had asked Murphy to remove Musitano as Scott’s lawyer when they discovered he had previously represented the mother of the shooting victim in criminal cases in Niagara Falls City Court and Town of Niagara Court. Those cases included charges of petit larceny, disorderly conduct, harassment, assault and various vehicle and traffic violations.
The judge, in his written order, noted that Musitano had a “duty of loyalty to (the victim’s mother)” and was “not free to attack a former client with respect to the subject matter of earlier representation.”
Murphy indicated that he expected the victim’s mother to be a key witness in the case and that he expected her prior criminal record to be a subject of cross-examination by the defense.
Musitano had argued that Scott had a right to “the lawyer of his choice.” Murphy said that right was “not absolute.”
Scott, 32, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree assault, first-degree criminal use of a firearm and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the shooting that took place in the parking lot of the Hometown Market at 17th Street and Pierce Avenue on Nov. 27. He has denied any involvement in the shooting of the now 3-year-old child.
The shooting took place just after 1 p.m., at a time when the convenience store was busy and people were out walking in the neighborhood. Investigators have said Scott was shooting at a man sitting in the front seat of the car.
Instead of hitting his target, police said Scott’s bullets slammed into the rear door of the vehicle, striking the child who was sitting in the rear seat. The little girl suffered two gun shots to the face.
She spent more than three weeks in Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, undergoing at least two surgeries to remove a bullet and bullet fragments from her face. The child is now home and recovering from her injuries.