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Howard B. Owens's blog

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

Today's Deals: Delavan's, Center St., Margarita's, Settler's and more

post by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Mother's Day is just around the corner! We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.50.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Sallome's Italian Deli, 40 Oak St., Batavia, NY: Wraps, subs, paninis and pasta as well as pizzas -- Sallome's offers a tasty variety of Italian deli items for eat-in or take-out. We have $10 gift certificates for $5 each.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St., Batavia, NY. Oliver's, a Batavia landmark, offers the finest chocolate and confections in the area. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Fight reported in Le Roy McDonald's

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Two women are reported fighting inside the McDonald's on Main Street in Le Roy.

Law enforcement is responding.

UPDATE 9:22 p.m.: Le Roy Police on scene with situation under control. The Sheriff's deputies responding told to disregard.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm

No arrests likely following Saturday's fight at carnival

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, carnival, crime, downtown

Uncooperative witnesses and a victim who doesn't want to press charges means there will likely be no arrests stemming from a fight at the downtown carnival Saturday night, according to Sgt. John Peck of the Batavia Police Department.

The 19-year-old victim is a GCC student from Utica.

When police arrived on scene at 9:59 p.m., there was a group of 10 or 12 people piled onto the victim, who was having a seizure, Peck said. Some of the people involved in the melee were trying to help the victim, other people where trying to pull them off. The first concern, he said, was to deal with his seizure.

"It was pretty chaotic," Peck said.

The victim, a black male, was taken by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital as a precautionary measure, but it turns out he was not seriously injured, Peck said.

"It probably looked worse than it was," he said, describing the injuries as just a couple of bumps and bruises.

All of the suspects are black males, Peck said.

On Saturday night, several witnesses promised to show up at the police station on Sunday to give statements, but none of them showed up.

That night there were also white youths seen running from the carnival down Ellicott Street. Police pursued them, but were unable to apprehend them. One of the youths dropped a knife.

But, Peck said, it appears none of those youths were involved in the carnival fight and police don't know why they fled the scene.

There was a report of a second fight by the big slide, but when State Police arrived to check out the report, no fight was in progress.

The cause of the fight appears to be something someone said to another guy's girlfriend, Peck said.

In all, five Batavia patrol units, two Sheriff's units and two State Police units responded to the reported fights.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Tractor fire reported on State Street Road

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, State Street Road

A tractor fire has been reported at Scalia's Landscape, 8106 State Street Road, Batavia.

The bobcat is not near any structures.

Town of Batavia Fire is responding.


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm

State Street burglary suspect back in court on new criminal charge

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, State Street, Wood Street

One of the four men accused of breaking into a State Street residence last September while the elderly woman who lived there slept, was back in court today, but not on the alleged burglary charge.

Twenty-five-year-old Quentin L. Gibson faces a new charge of criminal mischief as well as two traffic citations.

While his three co-defendants in the State Street case have either pled guilty or were convicted of the crime, Gibson's case is still wending through the legal system.

While the case proceeds, Gibson has been out of jail under the supervision of Genesee Justice.

But Gibson appeared in City Court today to answer the new charges stemming from an alleged incident May 1 on Wood Street. Justice Robert Balbick adjourned the proceedings for a few minutes while Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl consulted with Genesee Justice on Gibson's conduct since he's been out of jail.

After getting a report that Gibson has been doing well, and learning that Gibson has paid partial restitution on the alleged property damage that led to the criminal mischief charge, Zickl recommended that Gibson's release under supervision continue. Balbick agreed.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman was in court for the Scott Doll jury selection and was not available for an update on Gibson's status in the State Street case.

Also in court today facing charges for the alleged May 1 incident on Wood Street was Thomas Culver, also facing a criminal mischief charge.

The Batavia Police department has not yet released information on the two criminal mischief arrests, so no further information on the alleged incident is available.

UPDATE: Gibson and Culver were arrested at 10:35 p.m., Saturday, for allegedly intentionally breaking the door of a friend.

Gibson resides at 27 Richmond Ave., and 31-year-old Culver's address is 13 Wood St.

Reginald Wilson was convicted April 1 of burglary and possession of stolen property following a jury trial. The other defendants in the case, Dillon Brito and Joseph Dash have both pled guilty to charges related to the State Street break-in.

In an unrelated case in City Court today: Summer Ogden, 31, appeared on an endangering the welfare of a child charge. She is in jail on $500 bail. The charge stems from an alleged April 30 incident wherein she broke a temporary, plastic window in a car while her child was in the car.

The child was not injured, according to Zickl. Ogden was arrested in March for allegedly assaulting and biting her boyfriend and also faces a DWI charge. Her case was adjourned until Thursday for review for possible referral to either mental health or drug court.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Juror selection in Doll case slow going so far

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, crime, pembroke, scott doll

BATAVIA,  NY -- A day and a half into the jury selection process for the Scott Doll murder trial, and only three jurors have been seated.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman noted that at the current rate, it would take four days and eight panels of potential jurors just to get to 12 men and women to decide the case. That doesn't include the four- to six-alternate jurors needed for the anticipated three-week trial.

The prosecution has used 12 of its 20 peremptory challenges, and the defense 14 of 20.

While either side can request more peremptory challenges, it will be up to Judge Robert C. Noonan whether to grant such an extension.

Once the peremptory challenges are gone, the prosecution and defense will be left to accept any juror that can't be dismissed for cause.

A prospective juror dismissed for cause is somebody who has a clear conflict of interest and probably can't judge the case impartially. A peremptory challenge is one in which the prosecution or defense deems a particular juror just isn't suitable for the case, for any reason.

"It's a combination of everything, what they know, what you hear -- it's just a gut reaction in the end," Friedman said, adding that "Both sides are being very careful about who goes on this jury."

Doll, a Corfu resident, is accused of murdering Joseph Benaquist of Pembroke in February, 2009. Doll and Benaquist were apparently in business together selling used cars.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Local landlord calls in police to investigate damage to apartment following eviction

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, landlords

apartment_attic.jpg

Willard and Duane Preston didn't like what they found this morning when they entered an apartment Willard owns at 122 Summit Street, Batavia, so they called police.

Three doors had been pulled from the hinges, they said, three windows busted out, trash and debris littered the attic and the garage and there were numerous large holes in the walls.

They blamed the tenants they just evicted, and spurred by a recent article on The Batavian, they decided maybe they could get the police to pursue a criminal case against their former tenants.

"What is the city doing to help landlords?" Willard said. "The city can tell the landlords what to do, but the landlords can't tell the city what to do.That's my point. Damage is done? Fine. Get them in court. Put them in jail. If they're on social services, then cut it. Get them out of here. Send them back to Rochester or Buffalo."

Officer Ed Mileham confirmed he's conducting an investigation, but said he preferred not to discuss the case further. 

Police Chief Randy Baker said last week that while it's possible to look at tenant damage as a criminal matter, gathering sufficient evidence to make an arrest can be difficult.

"We have a level of proof to meet before it’s a criminal matter," Baker said. "One is, was it intentionally done or recklessly done? Then it’s a matter of identifying who did the damage. We can’t always meet all those criteria, so sometimes we can’t file the criminal charges."

Mileham said he did have a case about a year ago where a woman trashed an apartment owned by James Pontillo, and in that case, Mileham said, he did make a felony arrest.

In the case of the former tenants at 122 State, a woman was originally living there with a boyfriend who had "a good job in Rochester," Willard said. She was drawing social services benefits and had a job, too.

After breaking up with her boyfriend, apparently, she asked permission to have another man move in with her, to help her pay the rent.

"Why not?" Duane said. "It helps her and it helps us. What are we going to do, say no?"

But it wasn't long, Duane said, before the couple stopped paying rent, so they started eviction proceedings. It was during the eviction period, Duane said, that he believes they did most of the damage to the apartment.

"When she moved in, the apartment was clean and recently painted," Duane said. "It was beautiful."

Pointing to an abandoned couch, Willard said that it would cost $10 to have it removed, and $10 for each of the busted TVs left behind, plus $35 for a broken smoke detector, and all of the debris left in the attic and the garage.

"The small stuff like this ads up into thousands of dollars, at least $2,000," Willard said.

And it's hard to collect from tenants like those who just moved out, Duane said, because she's on DSS and the boyfriend -- whom he said claimed to be the son of a local contractor -- worked for various roofers, contractors and property owners around the city, always getting paid allegedly under the table, so there's no way to garnish the wages of either tenant.

While both of these former tenants have longtime roots in Batavia, both Duane and Willard pointed to transplants from Rochester and Buffalo as a cause for deteriorating neighborhoods.

"Batavia used to be pretty rosy," Duane said. "I've been in this business for 20 years. The streets used to be beautifully lined and the houses were all kept up. Now -- well, I'm glad we have an enforcement officer who says, 'let's get things cleaned up.' That's great because I'd like to protect my investments."

apartment_hinges.jpg

Top photo, Duane Preston points to debris in the attic. Bottom photo, Duane and Willard hold broken hinges, which Willard said showed no sign of wear or rust, but were just sheared off.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 10:19 am

Police Beat: Babysitter accused of striking 7-month-old

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Le Roy

Nicholas A. Thurley, 25, of Lake Street, Apt. B, Le Roy, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Thurley was arrested after police received a complaint of 7-month-old baby with a heavily bruised buttocks. He is accused of striking the child on his face and buttocks while babysitting for a friend over the weekend. He was jailed on $2,500 bail. Det. John Candidorio and Officer Daryl Robb handled the investigation.

A 17-year-old from Batavia is charged with sexual misconduct. He is accused of engaging in intercourse with a 16-year-old girl from Batavia.

A 17-year-old from Le Roy was arrested on a warrant from the New York Office of Children and Family Services. The youth had been wanted by OCFS since October. He was found in an apartment in the Village of Le Roy.

Farah St. Cloud, 18, of Rochester, is charged with criminal trespass. St. Cloud was apprehended after allegedly trying to flee through a bedroom window at College Village, where she once lived, but had been allegedly banned from the property.

Wyatt Jeremiah Becker, 19, of Darien, is charged with trespass and unlawful possession of marijuana. Becker is accused of entering another person's property after being told not to do so. At the time of his arrest, he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana. He was jailed on $500 bail.

Accidents from the State Police blotter:

2:54 p.m., May 2, Lewiston Road, Town of Batavia, two vehicles; Driver 1: Michael A. Witkop, 18, of Batavia; Driver 2: Ronald J. Beardsley, 51, of Nunda. No injuries reported.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Semi-truck has fuel tank punctured while on Thruway

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, thruway

truckleak.jpg

A tractor-trailer has apparently had a fuel tank punctured while on the Thruway.

A tie between two tanks ruptured and is gone, according to a chief on scene, and fuel is spilling from both tanks, which have a 120 gallon capacity (they were about half full, the driver said).

Fuel has spilled and "several cars have been contaminated," according to emergency dispatch.

The accident occurred in the area of mile marker 388 in the westbound lane.

Town of Batavia Fire has been dispatched.

UPDATE 5:55 p.m. (Billie): About 20 gallons has leaked out, but the leak is thought to be stopped at this point, according to a fireman.

UPDATE 6:32 p.m.: Crews were about to leave the scene when the tank started leaking again.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

LAT piece of governments and unions

post by Howard B. Owens in Blogs, unions

My friend Mickey Kaus (well, really a friend of friends, but we've met) is a Democrat and running for the U.S. Senate in California (all of us nerd writers are fascinated when one of our own takes a leap into politics, but this is quite a leap).

He has an interesting piece in the LA Times today saying Democrats need to start learning to say no to government employee unions.

Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we've seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.

He says that with love, of course.  As long as I've known Mickey -- about 7 years -- he's been a Democrat.  He's just saying the party needs to change with the times.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Doll's defense renews motions to suppress evidence before jury selection

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, crime, pembroke, scott doll

BATAVIA, NY -- Scott Doll's defense attorneys renewed motions today, prior to jury selection in his murder trial, to suppress key evidence and some of the statements he made during the initial investigation into the death of Joseph Benaquist.

Jury selection is expected to take as long as three days, with groups of 40 people being called in today, tomorrow and Wednesday, in the hopes of finding 12 impartial jurors and four to six alternates.

Daniel Killelea, who is assisting defense attorney Paul Cambria, argued this morning that introducing as evidence the disputed ownership of two cars in the case would unfairly prejudice the jury without establishing sufficient value to prove the murder charge.

The cars are a 2006 Chevy Malibu and 2008 Pontiac G6.

There is some question as to how Doll came into possession of the Malibu, which apparently was owned, at least at one time, by Benaquist, and there's also a question about who paid for the G6 and to what purpose.

Benaquist and Doll were apparently partners in a used car business.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he intends to show that Doll forged the title on the Malibu so he could sell it to a financing company in Buffalo.

Killelea's position is that there can't be any proof that Doll didn't obtain title to the Malibu legitimately.

He argued that presenting the status of the Malibu as evidence would unfairly prejudice the jury that he committed an uncharged crime, fraud.

As for the G6, the prosecution contends that Benaquist bought the car for himself -- though using the dealership license for SF Enterprises -- and gave Doll $10,000 as a down payment on the $13,300 car, but that the money never reached the financing company.

According to Killelea, there is insufficient evidence that the transaction wasn't for the company and the implication otherwise would prejudice the jury.

Friedman said the two cars, and the ownership dispute is key to the case.

"We anticipate that it will be established that it was these very cars that led to the murder of Joseph Benaquist," Friedman said.

On his other motion, Killelea said that statements made by Doll the night of the alleged murder cannot be admitted because he had asked for an attorney.

The prosecution contends that under the "emergency doctrine," police can try to obtain relevant information that needs to be known immediately and can continue questioning or taking statements even after a suspect has asked for an attorney.

Killelea cited at least three cases that say Doll was entitled to an attorney. But Assistant D.A. Will Zickl countered that there are cases allowing "emergency doctrine" statements to remain admissible, just as he'd argued the first time around on the same motion.

Judge Robert Noonan said he will reserve a ruling on the motions until just before opening arguments.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

Oakfield man accidentally shot by father while hunting turkeys

post by Howard B. Owens in hunting, Oakfield

A 46-year-old Oakfield hunter was accidentally shot by his father while turkey hunting off Albion Road in Oakfield at 6:25 a.m.

Scott Hartman, of Lockport Road, is listed in critical condition at Strong Memorial Hospital, according to the Sheriff's Office, after he was taken there by Mercy Flight.

Hartman was reportedly in some heavy brush when his father, 71-year-old Howard Hartment, of Clinton Street Road, Batavia, saw movement he mistook for a turkey.

According to a Sheriff's Office report, the Hartmans entered the woods about 6 a.m. The two began calling and a turkey answered. Scott and Howard separated and continued calling. Scott went off to Howard's right. After about 10 minutes, Howard saw what he believed to be a turkey he was calling off to his left, at about 50 yards under a pine tree.  When it cleared, Howard fired.

What Howard thought was a turkey turned out to be Scott. Scott had apparently circled around without Howard being aware of his new location.

After being hit by the shotgun pellets, Scott called 9-1-1 and walked out of the wooded/swamp area on his own.

Deputy Ron Meides handled the initial investigation, but it has now been turned over to the Department of Environmental Conservation for follow up.

UPDATE 2:37 p.m.: Strong Memorial now lists Scott Hartman in guarded condition.

UPDATE 3:17 p.m.: I requested from Strong's PR department a definition of "guarded." Here's what Jill D'Agostino wrote back: "Guarded" is the condition that’s typically assigned to anyone in one of our intensive care units. Patients who are on regular patient units (non-ICU) are listed as "satisfactory."

(Initial Report)

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

Bail set for Holley man accused of stealing guns from Byron resident

post by Howard B. Owens in byron, crime

A man accused of assaulting and stealing three guns from a Byron resident last week has a chance to make bail despite a lengthy criminal history.

Judge Robert C. Noonan, after saying he would have set bail higher had the prosecution request a higher bail, said Darrell Bruce Reid, 45, of 4 N. Main St., Holley, can get out of jail if he can come up with $50,000 cash or bond.

"I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody in who’s been arrested over 100 times before," Noonan said.

Reid is accused of hitting a Byron resident at 3:30 a.m., April 24, and stealing three long guns. The victim reportedly had only met Reid recently. He was hospitalized with a broken nose and cuts.

According to attorney William Tedford, from the public defenders office, Reid has spent most of his life in Western New York, except for three years in South Dakota. He has a child living in Chili and a mother, who has breast cancer, living in Rochester. Tedford said Reid was the only child living in the region who could help care for his mother.

Tedford asked for $15,000 bail.

District Attorney Kevin Finnell asked for $50,000 after stating that Reid had two prior parole and two prior probation revocations.

Reid is charged with with robbery, 2nd, assault, 2nd, and three counts of grand larceny.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 7:46 am

Police Beat: Driver charged with DWI following one-car accident

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, crime, Le Roy, pembroke

Scott C. Stine, 48, of York, Pa., is charged with DWI, refusal to take a breath test and moving from lane unsafely. Stine is accused driving drunk after being involved in a single-vehicle accident in the area of 8936 Lovers Lane Road, Pembroke, at 2:32 p.m., Saturday. He was jailed on $20,000 bail. Initial Report.

Jonathan D. Chapman, 40, of Le Roy, is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Chapman was taken into custody by Village of Le Roy Police following an alleged domestic dispute on Myrtle Street on Friday night. Chapman was jailed on $500 bail.

Brandy L. Osmancikli, 36, of Alabama, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Osmancikli was arrested by State Police at 11:32 p.m., Saturday, on Lewiston Road in Alabama. No further details were released.

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 6:34 am

Mercy Flight being called in for hunting accident

post by Howard B. Owens in hunting

We don't have much information on this yet -- Mercy Flight is being dispatched for a hunting accident -- a man has sustained shotgun wounds while hunting turkeys.

UPDATE 6:44 a.m.: Landing zone being set up on Lockport Road, Oakfield.

UPDATE 7:01 a.m.: Mercy Flight in route to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Caller on Swan reports loud noise

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Batavia Police are being dispatched to the area of Swan Street for the report of a loud noise.

The caller was on his porch and said it was very loud, a boom.

I heard it, too, and I'm four or five blocks from Swan. From the echo, I could tell it was some blocks away, but loud. I was guessing in the area of Kibbe Park, but I'm inside.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m.: A reader on Hutchins reports hearing it, too. Police cleared the scene about 11:30 p.m. without finding anything.

Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Dog struck on Colorado Avenue

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, crime, pets

A dog has been struck on Colorado Avenue.

The driver did not stop.

No description of the hit-and-run vehicle is available.

A person is on scene awaiting police in order to help identify and notify the owner.

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