Gunman Receives Maximum Sentence for Killing Woman and Her Infant Grandson in the Fruit Belt Neighborhood

Modified: November 23, 2020 5:11pm

Latest News

Redirecting to our new, updated website ...

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 28-year-old Kenyatta E. Austin of Buffalo was sentenced this afternoon by Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case to 64 years to life in prison.   

On July 2, 2018, at approximately 12:30 a.m., the defendant fired multiple shots at a group of people outside a home on Grape Street in the City of Buffalo. Yvette Johnson, who was celebrating her 54th birthday that evening, was shot and killed. Her grandson, 17-month-old Kyrie Johnson, was being held by another person during the shooting. The baby was also shot and killed.

Two men were also hit by gunfire, but survived the shooting. Both were treated at ECMC for gunshot wounds to their legs.  

Judge Case found Austin guilty of two counts of intentional Murder in the Second Degree, Class “A-I” felonies, two counts of Assault in the Second Degree, Class “D” felonies, and one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a Class “C” felony, on February 18, 2020. The judge reserved his decision following the two-week bench trial in January 2020.

“The murder of Yvette Johnson and her grandson is one of the most horrific cases that has been prosecuted by my Homicide Bureau. All homicides are tragic, but this was a particularly senseless act of violence that ended the lives of two innocent bystanders and injured two other people. This crime affected not only the Fruit Belt, but the entire community of Buffalo,” said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. “I hope that the family of Yvette and Kyrie feel that justice has been served by this defendant receiving the maximum possible sentence for these crimes.”

DA Flynn commends the Buffalo Police Homicide Squad for their thorough investigative work, including retired Det. Michael Mordino, Det. Mary Evans, retired Det. Brendan Kiefer, Det. Sgt. William Cooley, retired Det. Dawn Lopez and Det. Jason Mayhook. DA Flynn also commends the Niagara Falls Police Department for their assistance in apprehending the suspect.

Finally, DA Flynn acknowledges those who came forward with information on this crime and encourages anyone with additional information to contact the Erie County District Attorney’s Office or the Buffalo Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Chief Colleen Curtin Gable of the DA’s Grand Jury Bureau, former chief of the Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Ashley M. Morgan of the DA’s Homicide Bureau.