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devon wright

November 16, 2021 - 7:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in devon wright, news, crime, batavia, notify.
sponauglemug2020.jpg devonwrightmug2020.jpg
Jacob Sponaugle Devon Wright

Devon Wright, a multi-time arrestee over the past two years who has remained mostly free during that time, failed to appear in Genesee County Court at 9 a.m. as ordered for the start of a trial with co-defendant Jacob Sponaugle.

The two men are accused of being part of an apparent gun-sale deal gone bad at the Days Inn in Batavia on July 22 that left one of the three participants wounded.

Wright is charged with attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd and attempted criminal possession of a weapon 3rd.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said the court waited for two hours for Wright to show and then began jury selection without him.  By 5 p.m., the court had impaneled a 12-person jury with four alternates, Friedman said.

A warrant was issued for Wright's arrest.

At around 7 a.m., Friedman said he was informed that Wright was in custody and is expected to appear before Judge Charles Zambito at 9 a.m.

Opening statements are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m.

UPDATE 10:28 a.m.: Dressed in a white T-shirt, sweat pants, and jail crocs, and shackled, Devon Wright appeared before Judge Zambito at about 10 a.m. while his attorney, Nathan Pace, made a petition on behalf of his client that his absence from court yesterday be excused and that Wright be allowed to leave the trial at some point to attend the birth of his first child. Pace said Wright's girlfriend had been expecting to give birth on Nov. 12 but has yet given birth and that Wright stayed with her yesterday so he could be with her when the child is born.

Neither Friedman nor Zambito bought Wright's excuse. Both noted that Wright had sent text messages yesterday saying he was on his way and one that said he had arrived and both statements were untrue.  Both noted that Wright has a history of missing court appearances.  Zambito ordered Wright held but indicated he would consider a petition for him to visit his child if the child is born during the trial.  

Once that hearing was over, Wright was not ready for trial because the clothes brought to him at the jail didn't fit so his sister drove to a local store to buy him new clothes.  

Opening statements should begin shortly.

August 4, 2021 - 1:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in devon wright, news, batavia, notify.
sponauglemug2020.jpg devonwrightmug2020.jpg
Jacob Sponaugle Devon Wright

A Batavia man facing multiple criminal charges, many of them stemming from alleged acts after prior arrests, didn't show up in County Court this morning.

According to defense attorney Nathan Pace, his client, Devon Wright, called him this morning and said that last night he had dislocated his knee, couldn't walk, and was in much pain and so wouldn't be able to make it to court.

The court clerk then revealed that Wright had also called the court and said he wanted a new attorney so he wouldn't be showing up for court.

At the request of District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, Judge Charles Zambito issued a warrant for Wright's arrest.

Zambito then proceeded with setting a trial date for Wright on two of the charges against him, attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd and attempted criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, along with his co-defendant in that case, Jacob Sponaugle.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

Both men were allegedly involved in an attempted gun sale gone wrong on July 22, 2020.  A third person at the scene was shot and wounded in the lobby of the Days Inn in Batavia.

According to Friedman, Wright was the person attempting to buy the guns.

Details of what transpired at the Days Inn that night have not been released.

Soon after Zambiot set a trial date of Sept. 13, Wright walked into court (showing no signs of any injury).

Dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, he stepped to the defense table and informed the judge that he would like a new attorney.  His complaint about his attorney was that he didn't think he and his attorney were on the same page, that Pace had called up Wright and informed him they needed to meet, and that Wright needed to go to Pace's office. Because Wright's driving privileges are suspended, he said he couldn't drive himself there.

"I can't make somebody drive me there," Wright said.

Zambito denied Wright's request for a new attorney finding his reason this close to trial without merit.  He instructed Pace to work with his client to find a suitable time and place to meet,  Pace told Zambito that he needed a quiet and private place to meet with his client, which is why he asked to meet at his office. Zambito said that if Pace's office is difficult for Wright to get to, the courthouse has conference rooms they can use to meet. He told Wright it is unreasonable for him to expect Pace to come to his house to meet.

Among the other charges still pending against Wright are:

  • Larceny, harassment, and endangering the welfare of a child from November 2019;
  • Attempted assault 1st and resisting arrest from December 2019 when he allegedly ran down a person on Highland Park; 
  • Sexual conduct with a person less than 15 years old and two counts of criminal sexual act from May 2020.

Wright remains free on bail set in the Highland Park case and Zambito has expressed frustration at his inability to set new bail in subsequent cases due to New York's bail reform law.

Previously:

June 29, 2021 - 3:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in devon wright, news, crime, batavia, notify.
devonwrightmug2020.jpg
         Devon Wright

A Batavia man who has been arrested multiple times since 2019 but has remained out of jail apparently because of the state's bail reform law was admonished by Judge Charle Zambito today that he is "walking a fine" line while his cases are pending.

Zambito was shown a photograph provided by Genesee Justice that apparently showed Devon Wright, 19, received a traffic ticket for alleged aggravated unauthorized operation. The ticket, Zambito said, indicated that Wright was outside of his residence at night in violation of his terms of release.

It was expected that Wright would enter a guilty plea today in relation to his multiple charges but his attorney, Nathan Pace, said he needed more time to explain the charges and plea to his client. After much haggling over a date -- finding a time that fits into both Pace's calendar and the court calendar -- the parties agree to be back in court at 11:45 a.m., July 19.

After the appearance date was set, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman raised the issue of the email from Genesee Justice with the attached photo.

Friedman noted that at Wright's last court appearance -- after Wright was arrested on a weapon's charge -- he asked that Wright's bail be revoked. He renewed that request today.

Zambito read to Friedman the language of the current bail statute. The law would require Zambito to conduct a bail hearing, at which time Wright could challenge the evidence against him and present his own evidence, and even after the hearing, if Zambito determined new bail requirements were required, Zambito could only set the minimum bail necessary to assure Wright's appearance at future hearings.

"The one thing Mr. Wright has done," Zambito said, "is appear in court when he's told to appear. He may be out committing crimes but he's been here when he needs to be here. I can't change the law. I don't like it myself."

At Wright's May 24 hearing, Zambito also expressed frustration with bail reform law.

"It's impossible under the current bail reform laws," Zambito said then. "It seems Wright is a clear and present danger to the community as long as he is out and he continues to get arrested." 

But, Zambito added, "the law doesn't allow a judge to consider community safety when setting bail. I'm frustrated. I think every judge in New York State is frustrated."

In the past 21 months, Batavia PD has reported the following arrests:

After reminding Friedman of the constraints of the law, Zambito asked if Friedman wanted a hearing on this latest apparent violation of the terms of Wright's release and Friedman said no. 

In speaking to Wright, Zambito noted that the picture couldn't be authenticated and that may be a factor in why Friedman wasn't requesting a hearing because "if he could confirm when the picture was taken he would not only be asking that your bail be pulled but he would be asking for new charges."

He then told Wright, "You're on curfew. You need to be home at 9 p.m., not 10 after nine and you can't be out driving. Your privilege has been revoked."

May 24, 2021 - 6:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, devon wright, notify, batavia, crime.
devonwrightmug2020.jpg
         Devon Wright

Judge Charles Zambito expressed frustration today -- frustration he and his colleagues on the bench throughout New York share -- that when considering bail for a defendant, he cannot weigh the potential threat the defendant represents to the community. 

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman had just asked that Devon A. Wright be held without bail in the Genesee County Jail citing his recent felony arrest on top of two criminal indictments already pending.

Since Zambito couldn't send Wright to jail or increase his present bail (he is out of jail on bail), the County Court judge ordered the 19-year-old to undergo a mental health evaluation within the next three weeks, not consume drugs or alcohol, stay in his own residence from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (thereby prohibiting him from staying at his girlfriend's house), and avoiding any confrontation with police, who will have blanket permission to search him or his residence at any time.

Since turning 18 in 2019, Wright has been charged with crimes ranging from larceny and assault to sexual misconduct.

In the past 20 months, Batavia PD has reported the following arrests:

It's the most recent arrest that prompted Friedman to ask Zambito to order Wright held without bail.

Friedman said that he was more concerned about Wright's willingness to make future court appearances given his growing list of unresolved criminal charges.

Attorney Nathan Pace, recently assigned to represent him after Wright's previous attorney resigned from the case, argued that there was no reason to doubt Wright won't make future court appearances since he has made recent court appearances. Pace said he represented Wright in other matters two years ago and the defendant made his appearances then. He also said he and his client dispute the facts of the recent arrest. He also said Wright will become a father in a few months and is looking forward to the baby's birth and that he will start a job at a Batavia gas station on Monday.

"I believe he will continue to appear in court," Pace said.

Friedman countered that it is meaningless that the defendant denied wrongdoing in the new cases. That's what defendants do at this stage of proceedings. Friedman said it was more relevant that Wright is accused of resisting arrest and fighting with police officers. 

Zambito opened his remarks by saying it was difficult to agree with the desire of Pace to keep his client out of jail, but that New York law limited what he could do to hold Wright in custody. 

"It's impossible under the current bail reform laws," Zambito said. "It seems Wright is a clear and present danger to the community as long as he is out and he continues to get arrested. 

But, Zambito added, "the law doesn't allow a judge to consider community safety when setting bail. I'm frustrated. I think every judge in New York State is frustrated."

He said he was going to order a mental health evaluation and Pace agreed that is a good idea. 

"As his previous attorney said, 'something is not right in his head,' " Pace told Zambito.

As Zambito issued his order, Pace emphasized to Wright that he can't go out of the door of his house after 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m. and that he must cooperate with police when he encounters them, even when they show up to search his house. 

Zambito added, "they're going to show up at your house and you can't fight with them, you can't resist them."

Wright is also not allowed to leave Genesee County while his cases are pending.

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