Teen Charged With Murder Eight Months After Crime

February 23, 2012 Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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February 23, 2012 Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - After an eight month investigation, a teen is in custody in connection with the shooting death of a fellow teenager in May of 2011.

18 year old Dontre Jones faced a judge Thursday morning for that murder.

"I'm hurting right now for both families because it's a terrible, terrible thing that happened," victim's friend Mildred Cochran said.

It was an emotional day in court as Dontre Jones, 18, was arraigned and pled not guilty to charges of Murder in the 2nd Degree. He is accused of shooting to death fellow teen Ira Watkins.

"He was a good kid, truly a good kid," Cochran said.

Authorities said it all went down at the Cheektowaga Town Park last Memorial Day during a water balloon party advertised on Facebook. They said it was a conflict between two gangs. Although Watkins was not involved with the groups, he knew them and unfortunately got caught in the crossfire.

"It happened in broad daylight at a basketball court but if I were to go through my files in the last year frequently where large groups of young adults congregate it winds up in violence," prosecutor James Bargnesi said.

Although Jones was a person of interest from the start of the investigation, it took eight months to actually charge him with the crime. Investigators said because the incident was gang related, many witnesses did not come forward.

"Its a continual effort to revisit people who are reluctant to speak or will only speak under certain circumstances," Bargnesi said.

Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack said there were many challenges in this investigation.

"Even parents stood in the way of us talking to their children who witness this thing," Zack said.

Now by law, there are 45 days of hearings before a trial begins or a plea bargain is discussed.