Hike sentence

Convicted Highland Avenue shooter could lose plea deal sentence following new drug charge | Local News

Joachim Sylvester showed up in Niagara County court on August 1, expecting to be re-sentenced and freed from any further jail time following a plea deal in his second trial for a daring shooting of April 2014 in the middle of the afternoon on Highland Avenue.

But instead of leaving the courtroom of Niagara County Court Judge John Ottaviano a free man, Sylvester left in handcuffs. He was not convicted again, he was arrested on a new grand jury indictment which charged him with second degree felony sale of a controlled substance.

The sudden reversal of fortune has left Sylvester, 45, who has been described by law enforcement sources as a known drug dealer and street gang member, stunned and facing a potential return to prison in connection with the shooting of Highland Avenue and another long sentence behind bars. if he is convicted of drug trafficking.

In October 2014, a Niagara County Court jury, made up of eight women and four men, deliberated for about three hours before convicting Sylvester of attempted murder and weapons charges in a brazen mid-court shooting. day at the center of Highland Avenue on April 17, 2014. .

The key piece of evidence in the case was video, captured by security cameras in the front of a convenience store, which showed a man, identified by police and prosecutors as Sylvester, firing shots with a handgun on another man.

The video showed the victim arriving in front of the store and engaging in conversations with several people, including a person inside a black SUV parked in front of the business. As the victim stood in the street, the video showed an approaching silver SUV with the driver of that vehicle pointing a handgun out the window.

The victim, who was in a direct line of fire from the handgun, can then be seen, in the video, running away.

A split second later, the video shows passersby scattering in all directions as the driver of the silver SUV exits his vehicle. The shooter then chases the victim, rapidly firing shots at him.

The victim is then seen diving into another SUV which attempts to accelerate, but instead slaloms down Highland Avenue, colliding head-on with another black SUV parked in front of the convenience store.

The shooter, identified as Sylvester, then returns to the silver SUV and drives away from the scene.

After his conviction, retired Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III denied Sylvester’s request to overturn the jury’s verdict and sentenced him to 25 years behind bars for attempted murder. and an additional 15 years for possession of weapons. These sentences were to be carried out simultaneously.

Sylvester served six and a half years of his sentence before the Fourth Department of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled that Murphy erred in allowing certain evidence into his trial. A five-judge panel of the Fourth Department court in November 2020 unanimously overturned Sylvester’s conviction and ordered that he face a new trial.

Sylvester posted $5,000 bond in early 2021 and was released pending a new trial in his case. While originally placed on an ankle monitor, that restriction was lifted over fierce objections from prosecutors after the case was transferred to Ottaviano following Murphy’s retirement.

Ahead of his scheduled recovery date in June, Sylvester agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors. In exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, prosecutors dropped the attempted murder count.

Ottaviano agreed to sentence Sylvester to 4 years behind bars and 4 years of post-release supervision in exchange for the plea. Having already served more than 6 years in prison, Sylvester would have effectively finished his time behind bars and would have been fully released from police custody.

Except for the new grand jury indictment.

Prosecutors claim that while Sylvester was out on bail and without an ankle monitor, he was engaged in selling narcotics to the falls.

After his arrest at the courthouse, he was taken into custody without bail. Ottaviano has scheduled a hearing in October on a prosecution request to scuttle the proposed sentence for the plea deal.

Sylvester will return to the Niagara County Courthouse this month for preliminary proceedings in his drug case.