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Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

House filling with smoke on Macomber Road, Alabama

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, fire

A house is reportedly filling with smoke at 6912 Macomber Road, Alabama. The location is between Judge and Ham roads. Alabama Fire Department is responding. Dispatch says it is possibly a chimney or wood stove problem.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Head-on collision on Lewiston Road, minor injuries reported

post by Billie Owens in Alabama

A two-car head-on collision with minor injuries is reported at 1630 Lewiston Road, east of Route 77. Alabama Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE: Photo submitted by Bruce Webber, who said he was in the area working on his truck and saw the crash. The silver car, he said, went off the north side of the road and the driver appeared to over correct and hit a Honda almost head on. "I was a couple of feet away," Webber said. "Parts and pieces everywhere."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm

DA granted motion to drop remaining charges against convicted child molester

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime
Earl Sprague

There will not be a second trial for convicted child molester Earl Sprague, who has already been sentenced following his first trial to 21 years in prison.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman made a motion this morning, which was granted by County Court Judge Robert Noonan, to dismiss the remaining charges against Sprague.

The 42-year-old Sprague was facing a possible trial on eight felony counts, including two counts of burglary, 1st, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 1st, aggravated sexual abuse, 1st, two counts predatory sexual assault, a Class II-A felony, and one count of assault, 1st.

Friedman said he could not discuss the reason for the motion to drop the charges.

"We made a determination we couldn't really proceed with the remaining charges," Friedman said. "That's all I can really say."

The former Alabama resident was convicted by a jury on 28 counts of sexual abuse.

Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Car wreck on Sumner Road, Darien

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Alabama, corfu

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at 192 Sumner Road in Darien. Alabama Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 11:35 a.m.: The accident is in Crittenden. Erie County and Alden are handling. The patient is a sign-off. Darien and Mercy medics are back in service.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Guns stolen from a shop in Alabama, suspects in dark colored pickup

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime

Within the past hour, a gun shop on Route 77 in Alabama was burglarized and guns were stolen.

The suspect vehicle is a dark colored pickup truck, unknown direction of travel.

State Police are on scene.

UPDATE 10:43 p.m.: Orleans County dispatch has informed Genesee County dispatch of a possible related burglary in that jurisdiction. Communication equipment, such as that used by fire and police personnel, were taken. It occurred after the Alabama burglary. The Alabama suspect vehicle is described as an S-10 type of pickup truck, dark in color, with a loud exhaust.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m.: Seven double-barrel shotguns are missing, too.

Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm

T-bone accident reported at Tesnow and Wright roads, Alabama

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Alabama

A motor-vehicle accident, reportedly a T-bone with at least two injuries, is reported at Tesnow and Wright roads in the Town of Alabama. Alabama Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics. This is east of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

UPDATE 6:16 p.m.: A rescue unit from Akron is requested to provide mutual aid to the scene. Indian Falls Fire Department is asked to shut down Tesnow at Akron Road and also Bloomingdale Road.

UPDATE 6:21 p.m.: A Mercy medic confirms two injured parties in a pickup truck. No extrication needed. Akron can stand down.

UPDATE 6:24 p.m.: A second Mercy ambulance is requested.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: The Highway Department will be notified that "salt is needed on this hill."

UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: Two patients transported to St. Joe's in Buffalo.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Still no decision on new attorney for man facing additional sexual abuse charges

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime
Earl Sprague

It's still not clear who will represent Earl Sprague in his second trial on child sexual abuse charges.

Sprague, already serving a 21-year sentence on child sexual abuse charges, appeared in County Court today dressed in state prison green, to hear Judge Robert C. Noonan tell William Tedford from the Public Defender's Office that regardless of who represents Sprague, the trial is going forward March 24.

The 42-year-old former Alabama resident faces an additional eight felony  counts, including two counts of burglary, 1st, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 1st, aggravated sexual abuse, 1st, two counts predatory sexual assault, a Class II-A felony, and one count of assault, 1st.

The Class II-A felony carries a possible life sentence.

Last week, Sprague asked that Fred Rarick, who was court-appointed to represent him in his trial on 28 felony counts, be dismissed as his attorney for the second trial.

Noonan granted his wish and assigned the case to the Public Defender's Office.

Today, Tedford asked Noonan to delay the case because Tedford already has four possible trials between now and April, plus the office will be short-handed at the end of March because Public Defender Gary Horton is retiring.

"My personal trial schedule will give me a limited time to prepare," Teford said. "While I consider myself a quality attorney, I submit that six weeks to properly preper for a trial on such serious charges would result in ineffective counsel for Mr. Sprague.

Noonan said it's actually seven and a half weeks, which should be enough time to prepare; however, Noonan said taking everything into account, he has arranged for an attorney from the assigned council office to come to court tomorrow and go over the case with Sprague and Tedford and see if he will be able to take on the case and be ready for trial March 24.

"This case has lingered on far too long," Noonan said.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 8:22 am

Two school districts announce closures this morning

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Oakfield, Pavilion, schools, weather

Oakfield-Alabama schools are closed this morning, due to weather.

Pavilion school is closed, due to plumbing issues.

Pavilion students scheduled to take a regents exam at Pavilion High School are to report to the elementary building at their scheduled test time.

The National Weather Service has a wind chill advisory in effect until 10 a.m. with wind chills expected to be 15 to 25 degrees below zero.

Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Convicted child abuser will get new attorney for second trial

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime
Earl Sprague

Earl Sprague, sentenced yesterday to 21 years in prison for child sexual abuse, will have a new attorney when he goes on trial -- possibly in March -- on a separate set of charges, including predatory sexual assault.

During an appearance today to set a trial date on the eight counts still pending against Sprague, attorney Fred Rarick told Judge Robert C. Noonan that it was apparent to him that Sprague no longer had confidence in him and that a new attorney should be appointed to represent the 42-year-old Alabama resident.

Noonan expressed some skepticism that Sprague really needed a new attorney, praising Rarick's ability as a criminal defense attorney.

"Mr. Rarick is one of the most experience criminal defense attorneys we have around here in handling very serious matters such as yours," Noonan told Sprague. "He worked very hard on this case. If there was a difference over strategy, that's not unusual."

Sprague told Noonan that he felt there was evidence that Rarick didn't bring out at trial that he thought should have been presented to the jury.

"I won't get into specifics, but there was a point in the trial where he said if we do this, they're (motioning toward the prosecution) is going to try and do something else," Sprague said. "We talked about it. I thought about it and then I said go ahead and he didn't go ahead and do it. None of it was brought up."

Noonan expressed concern that a change in attorney could delay the second trial, but after a little more conversation with Sprague and Rarick agreed to refer the case to the Public Defender's Office.

Sprague faces a trial on eight felony counts, including two counts of burglary, 1st, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 1st, aggravated sexual abuse, 1st, two counts predatory sexual assault, a Class II-A felony, and one count of assault, 1st.

Noonan set a trial date of March 24.

Sprague be back in court Jan. 30 to ensure a new attorney has been appointed and is working on the case and can be ready for trial on that date.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Noonan gives maximum available sentence to Alabama man convicted of child sexual abuse

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime
Earl Sprague

Convicted by a jury on 28 counts of sexual abuse, Earl Sprague will soon begin a 21-year prison term while still maintaining his innocence.

The 42-year-old Alabama resident was sentenced in Genesee County Court today by Judge Robert C. Noonan.

"It's a very sad circumstance, but the saddest part is that two kids have been victimized repeatedly over an extended period of time," Noonan said. "I do believe a serious sentence should be imposed over a lengthy period of time."

On the first three counts of sexual abuse the jury said Sprague did commit, Noonan gave Sprague seven years on each count to be served concurrently. On counts four through 17, again, seven years each, served concurrently, but consecutive to the first seven years. On counts 18 through 28, seven years each, running concurrent to each other, but consecutive to the first two groups of counts.

The three groups of seven-year sentences, served consecutively means Sprague will be locked up for 21 years, barring any time off for good behavior.

The sentence was the maximum available to Noonan under state sentencing guidelines.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told Noonan he would recommend Sprague spend the rest of his life in prison, if only that were an option for Noonan.

"It would be appropriate to send him to prison for the rest of his life, but that can't be done," Friedman said. "We will once again have to worry about what this defendant is going to do once he's out of prison. I would ask that you do everything in your statutory power to keep this defendant locked up for as long as possible as required by law."

Sprague will be on parole for 10 years following his release from prison.

Defense attorney Fred Rarick told Judge Noonan that his client had been prepared to make a statement in court, but after Noonan ruled that a television camera could record the proceedings, Rarick said his client informed him he would not make a statement.

"He can choose to make a statement or not make a statement," Noonan said. "This is a public courtroom and the presence of a camera only enhances the public nature of it to some extent. It's his choice."

Sprague made no statement.

The two young victims he was convicted of molesting had originally requested to appear at the sentencing and make victim impact statements, but neither appeared today. Instead, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini read statements from both victims.

Rarick filed a notice of appeal and explained after court that he did so primarily to preserve his client's right to appeal his conviction. Rarick said it will be up to an attorney who specializes in appeals to review the transcript of the case and determine what if any issues might be proper for appeal to a higher court.

There could be an issue, Rarick said, with Noonan allowing the jury to hear evidence of Sprague's prior bad acts, including prior accusations of children molestation going back 30 years.

"My client respectfully disagrees with his ruling," Rarick said. "We thought he shouldn't let any priors in because it would take the jury's mind off what the real issues are."

From Rarick's point of view, those issues include an estranged wife who had motivation to keep Sprague from gaining custody of their children after she was accused of burglary and theft. According to Rarick, Penny Sprague made statements prior to Earl Sprague's arrest that she knew how a woman could get a man in trouble and that children could be convinced to make accusatory statements.

Rarick said there were never any accusations or concerns raised about Earl Sprague molesting these particular children until Penny Sprague became a suspect in a burglary.

Sprague will be back in court tomorrow because he still faces eight felony counts from another grand jury indictment, including two counts of burglary, 1st, sexual abuse, 1st, criminal sexual act, 1st, aggravated sexual abuse, 1st, two counts predatory sexual assault, a Class II-A felony, and one count of assault, 1st.

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