Jury Verdict Reversal Upheld for Lockport Man in Murder-for-Hire Conviction

Benito Lendof-Gonzalez, a Lockport man formerly charged in 2017 with soliciting a Niagara County Jail inmate to murder members of his family, saw an appellate court decision overturning that conviction withstand on Tuesday. 

“Under our long-standing precedents, a person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if the person’s conduct comes “dangerously close” to committing the intended crime,” said Judge Paul Feinman, a member of the New York State Court of Appeals.

The 4-3 ruling upheld the State Supreme Court Appellate Division 4th Department’s decision which reversed the initial conviction after a trial-by-jury.

According to Feinman, the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office didn’t produce the breadth of evidence required to warrant a conviction.  “The People’s evidence in this case was insufficient to support defendant’s convictions for attempted murder in the first and second degrees because it failed to prove that defendant and his feigned confederate took any actual step toward accomplishing defendant’s plan to kill his wife and mother-in-law beyond mere conversations and planning.”

Order, insofar as appealed from, affirmed. Opinion by Judge Feinman. Chief Judge DiFiore and Judges Stein and Wilson concur. Judge Rivera dissents in an opinion in which Judges Fahey and Garcia concur.