Modified: January 26, 2016 10:37am
First Assistant Erie District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. announces that 20 year-old Rodney T. Lee was convicted as charged of Robbery in the Second Degree after a week and a half jury trial before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case.
The acts underlying this conviction arose from a robbery on Delray Avenue, West Seneca on February, 1 2015.
At trial, the jury learned that Lee contacted the victim online in response to an advertisement for the sale of some sneakers. Unbeknownst to the victim, Lee didn’t actually plan to buy the sneakers. Lee picked up two friends on the way to the victim’s home and provided one of them, Demetrius Pennick, with what appeared to be a small black pistol. Lee handed the gun to Pennick and told him to pull it out and rob the victim, and that is exactly what Pennick did.
Once they arrived, the victim walked out to the street and met Lee and Pennick at their car. After being signaled by Lee, Pennick pulled out the gun, but the robbers were only able to escape with one single sneaker. Despite demands from both Lee and Pennick, the victim would not give up the complete pair.
As Lee sped away, the victim observed the license plate and called 911. Of course, that license plate led Buffalo Police to Lee’s home. Less than an hour later, Lee and Pennick were found hiding with the sneaker in the attic by Officer Paul Fitzpatrick. The gun was actually a BB gun and was found in Lee’s bedroom, where he admitted hiding it.
Lee admitted to West Seneca Police Detective Daniel Crowe that he set up the “deal” on his own, provided the gun, and drove to and from the robbery. Despite all of this, during trial, Lee claimed he was totally shocked when Pennick pulled out the gun, which he claimed he had just co-incidentally put in the car just before the robbery.
The jury rejected Lee’s claims and returned a guilty verdict.
Flaherty credited the quick and professional response of Officer Fitzpatrick and Detective Crowe, observing that "had they delayed perhaps for even a few minutes, they might never have found the evidence which proved the crime."
Lee faces a maximum term of 15 years in state prison when sentenced by Judge Case on January 13, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. Pennick had already pleaded guilty for his role in the robbery and is scheduled to be sentenced by Justice Penny M. Wolfgang on December 14, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.
The case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Nathanael C. Kapperman and Patrick B. Shanahan, both of whom are assigned to the District Attorney's Felony Trial Bureau.