BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Prosecutors say a suspected gang accused of robbing pizza delivery workers and cab drivers at gunpoint is responsible for the murder of Mazen Abdallah, a Buffalo cabbie killed last year.
Two teens, Maurice Howe and Sean Austin, have been on trial for the past month and a jury will soon decide their fate. On Wednesday, the jury got one final look at eerie and disturbing video that showed two men in dark clothing getting into a cab and then a second video of the cab being moved after the murder was committed.
Abdallah was well-loved by his fellow cabbies, who were distraught to learn their co-worker had been shot twice in the head after picking up two men at the Perry Projects in Buffalo last March. His cab was later found on Norfolk with his body inside it.
Evidence presented during the trial showed DNA belonging to Howe, a star quarterback at South Park High School, was found inside the cab on bloody clothing, as was DNA belonging to Austin.
Prosectuors said the teens had robbery on their minds and murder a trigger pull away, but attorneys for the defendants say the evidence is circumstantial and not enough to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jeremy Schwartz, Austin’s defense attorney, said, “Basically I told the jurors that though a lot of the evidence might point to Sean Austin, [it] doesn’t always mean what it seems. There’s a lot of passing around phones, a lot of passing around clothes. I think it might make him look guilty to an outsider but it’s not necessarily true.”
Michael D’Amico, Howe’s defense attorney, said, “This kid’s never been in trouble before in his life and I don’t think any evidence in the case points towards him being the person that actually fired the fatal shots or any of the evidence shows that he shared in the intents of his co-defendant.”
At 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the judge will charge the jury who will then begin deliberations.