Defense Casts Doubt on Testimony Against Suspected Killer

March 19, 2011 Updated Mar 19, 2011 at 4:51 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

March 19, 2011 Updated Mar 19, 2011 at 4:51 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY
Twenty-eight year old James Robb and 27 year old Tillman Ward were both shot on the summer night of August 14th, 2010 in front of City Grill Restaurant.
Both men gave few details to police about the shooting during the entire investigation, claiming they saw nothing. But now, their story is changing.

Ward spoke to Eyewitness News just weeks after the deadly shooting. Ward was shot in the arm and back during the melee and in a sworn statement he told police he never saw the shooter. Even after Ricardo McCray was charged for the murders Ward said he had no idea who McCray was and had this message for whoever the gunman might be.

"He needs to get right with God and ask for forgiveness," said Ward.

Fast forward six months. Ward was arrested on two separate gun charges. He wrote a letter to Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita offering to testify against McCray in exchange for a reduced sentence on the weapons charges. The district attorney agreed. All this occurred eight days before the trial against McCray was scheduled to begin. McCray's defense attorney read part of Ward's letter during opening statements Friday.

"Quote, he wants immunity or dismissal of those two serious gun charges. Now ordinarily the district attorney doesn't offer a plea to anyone on those," said Joseph Terranova, McCray's defense attorney.

Cameras were not allowed to film testimony but James Robb took the stand. Robb was also shot and injured outside City Grill that night. But Robb is not getting any special deals for his testimony. In fact, prosecutors had to have him arrested and forced to testify. Despite previously saying he did not know who shot him Robb testified McCray was the gunman.

Terranova questions the integrity of the prosecution's witnesses, citing the fact that a previous female eyewitness picked out a different person in a photo line up saying that person was the shooter which led to the arrest of a man was arrested and later released.

"Do they have the right guy? Why do we believe they have the right guy? This is going to be the recurring theme throughout this trial," said Terranova to the court.

The district attorney also plans to call four jailhouse informants who came forward claiming to have information about the case from talking with McCray in jail.