By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — A Town of Tonawanda man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old girl and sexually abusing her appeared in Niagara County Court Thursday morning to request a few more days to consider a plea deal offered by the district attorney late last year.
David J. Grover, 34, 1870 Niagara Falls Blvd., was scheduled for pretrial arguments Thursday, but his lawyer, David Douglas, asked County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas for a postponement.
“I had a lengthy meeting with my client yesterday and we reviewed the specifics of the plea bargain and sentencing,” Douglas said. “It was a very productive meeting, and there’s a very good possibility that we might use the plea bargain.”
But Douglas said there are a few minor details about the deal that he and his client still need to look over.
Farkas hesitantly granted the delay, and Grover is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 21.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco said in December the plea deal includes Grover pleading guilty to the first-degree sexual assault charge.
In August, Grover entered a plea of not guilty for all three
charges — first-degree sexual assault, second-degree kidnapping and committing a
sexually motivated felony.
Grover is accused of taking the girl from her home on July 28 after tricking the victim’s mother into leaving to pick up a mutual friend. He then allegedly brought the girl to a wooded area and molested her.
He then took the girl to her father’s house in the City of Tonawanda, where police said Grover took a shower while barricading the door. Police arrested him shortly thereafter.
Prosecutors said he is a long acquaintance of both parents.
Four family members of the victim were in court Thursday and spoke at length with Zucco and fellow Assistant District Attorney Holly Sloma about the delay of the proceedings.
“This isn’t shocking or disturbing,” Sloma told the family, explaining the postponement is normal procedure as Douglas has recently taken over the case.
She also assured the victim’s family that her and Zucco would “not budge” on the plea deal and prosecution of Grover, noting that the most serious charge of kidnapping would likely be easy to prove in court.
Family members declined to comment on the case, but one cited Grover’s criminal history while leaving court Thursday, as it’s not the first time Grover has been accused of kidnapping a young girl.
He spent almost four years in prison for taking then 4-year-old Serenity Platts from a North Tonawanda home in 2007 and disappearing with her for several hours in his vehicle. No evidence of sexual abuse was ever found and Grover blamed the incident on his cocaine addiction. The circumstances surrounding the two events were similar — Grover was closely acquainted with Platts’ mother, too.
He eventually accepted a plea deal in that case, to a single charge of first-degree reckless endangerment. The judge sentenced him to three to six years in state prison, and he was released on parole in June 2011.
If Grover does not accept the plea deal, the trial will begin March 18. If Grover is found guilty, he will face a maximum sentence of 25 years for the kidnapping charge alone.
Grover is being held in Niagara County Court without bail.Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150