ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The conviction of an Elmira man involved in a shooting nearly five years ago has been overturned, and he’ll be headed to a new trial, according to a decision from a New York Appellate Court.
The decision from the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division, Third Judicial District, dated April 27, 2023, said that the 2nd-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon conviction of Lydell Watts has been overturned. The court decided to overturn the conviction after Watts filed an appeal based on the handling of the case during his original trial.
According to the appellate decision, Watts challenged a few main things from his trial. First, he challenged the fact that his attorney never called the “Adolescent Offender”—a 16-year-old third person involved in the shooting—to the witness stand. He also challenged that when Juror No. 1 never showed up, the court replaced her without thoroughly looking into why she didn’t show up and his attorney never objected to the replacement.
The appellate court document also explains that Watts appealed the conviction based on the fact that no witnesses in the trial actually saw him in the vehicle the night of the incident. However, witnesses described seeing three silhouettes in the vehicle and later three people walking away from the car, including Watts. Elmira Police also testified seeing the front passenger seat positioned all the way back and that Watts was 6’6″ tall.
WETM has reached out to Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore for comment, as well as the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Watts had been sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years of post-release supervision.
The incident at the core of the case happened on September 1, 2018. Police were called to the parking lot of Gush’s Thirsty Bear for a report of several gunshots. No injuries were reported, but police found bullet casings nearby.
The entire appellate ruling can be read below: