Judge Finds Defendant Guilty of Murder in Shooting That Killed Woman and Her Infant Grandson on Grape Street

Modified: February 18, 2020 1:19pm

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Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case has found 27-year-old Kenyatta Austin of Buffalo guilty of two counts of intentional Murder in the Second Degree, Class “A-1” 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. Judge Case reserved decision following the two-week bench trial that occurred last month and rendered his verdict this morning.

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.  

Austin faces a maximum of 64 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on Monday, March 23, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. He continues to remain held without bail.

“The murder of Yvette Johnson and her little grandson is one of the most horrific cases that has been prosecuted by my Homicide Bureau. All murders 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 being found guilty of 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 and Assistant District Attorney Ashley M. Morgan of the DA’s Homicide Bureau.