Judge releases man accused of trying to hit prosecutor with car

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Defense attorney Joe Agro told News 4 Tuesday morning Judge Kenneth Case released his client, William Payne, who was accused of trying to run down the prosecutor with a car.

Payne is on trial for rape and was held without bail for seven days while Agro investigated. Last week Judge Case heard testimony from two assistant district attorneys, one of whom said she was almost hit and run over by 48-year-old Payne around 7 p.m. after a long day of jury selection for the rape trail.

Assistant District Attorneys Kristi Ahlstrom claimed she was crossing Delaware Avenue at West Eagle after the first day of jury selection in Payne’s trial when she saw a black sedan stopped at a green light. She said she was unsure if the sedan was going to turn. In a statement read by ADA Roseanne Johnson, Ahlstrom said she took two steps into the street when the car started moving into the intersection. She took one more step and says the car started coming straight towards her.

Ahlstrom says the car came within feet of her and hit hit a puddle, causing water to splash up to her hip. She says she recognized the driver as Payne.

Johnson argued that this was an obvious attempt to menace and intimidate the assistant prosecutor and cannot be tolerated. As a result, in a hearing, the judge revoked Payne’s $25,000 bail.

Judge Case also declared a mistrial in Payne’s rape case after Agro argued a mistrial was required because he was not aware of what had allegedly took place.

Seven days later, Agro told News 4, with the help of the NFTA, he obtained proof that Payne was taking the NFTA Metro rail and bus home at the time of the incident.

Argo says the video from Delaware and West Eagle shows a person coming out of the BAC or downtown, putting a backpack into an SUV and getting in. He says the car didn’t come within two feet of the prosecutor like she claimed, and that it looked like it was about 10 feet away.

Agro says his client has never had a license or owned a car.

Agro said, “The most disturbing thing here is that they made a mistake. They clearly rushed to judgment and this guy sits for seven days.”

Three jurors had already been picked for Payne’s rape trial. But with a mistrial declared, a new trial with new jurors will begin August 11.

District Attorney Frank Sedita is out of town and could not be reached for comment.

“If you’re going to blame somebody for something, make sure you get it right,” Argo said.

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