Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Antonio Martin-Brown, the alleged killer of Malone's owner Jim Cottone, pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning in Erie County Court to second-degree murder and petit larceny.
A grand jury delivered the indictment charging Martin-Brown with the crimes after he turned himself in to police last week. Martin-Brown, 19, is accused of killing the 62-year-old restaurant owner on the morning of May 19. Police said the Kenmore resident, who purchased Malone's Bar and Grill last summer, died from blunt force injuries in his Landers Road home.
Prosecution and defense attorneys spoke briefly Wednesday about Martin-Brown's history while discussing his bail in front of Erie County Court Judge Russell Buscaglia. Both lawyers cited a Buffalo police missing person report that was issued in April 2012.
"He has ran away from home before, and this is a very serious allegation, with a possible sentence of 25 years to life," Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush said.
Defense attorney Andrew LoTempio disputed the facts surrounding Martin-Brown's run-away, and said his mother called police when he didn't come home for a few days.
"He was gone for just a weekend, and came home shortly after. There is no flight risk," LoTempio said.
LoTempio also said his client has no criminal history, with only two prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.
"He cooperated, he came to my office and turned himself in to Kenmore police," LoTempio said.
After the attorneys' brief arguments, Buscaglia sent Martin-Brown, of Buffalo, back to the Erie County Holding Center without bail.
More information about Martin-Brown, including how he knew the victim, is not being released. At the time of Martin-Brown's surrender, Kenmore Police Chief Peter Breitnaeur said the killing was not a random act, but that the suspect was not associated with the Delaware Avenue bar.
"They were not strangers," he said.
Martin-Brown's mother, as well as a few of his friends, were in court Wednesday, but declined to comment on the allegations. One friend shouted a word of support to the expressionless defendant as he exited the courtroom.
LoTempio and Hackbush will file their pre-trial motions next month, and hearings are scheduled for Aug. 14. Buscaglia said the appearance will include a Huntley hearing to examine the admissibility of statements the defendant made to police.Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley.