Guilty Verdict Returned in Double Murder on Grape Street

A grandmother and her 17 month old grandson were the victims

Mike Baggerman
February 18, 2020 - 10:39 am
Grape St home where Yvette Johnson and 17 month old Kyrie Johnson were killed

Grape Street home where Yvette Johnson, 54, and Kyrie Johnson, 17 months, were killed. July 3, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Kenyatta Austin has been found guilty of the 2018 double murder of 56-year-old Yvette Johnson and her 17-month-old grandson Kyrie outside of a home on Grape Street in Buffalo.

The shooting happened just after 12:30 a.m. on July 2 by a home near the corner of Grape and Best Streets. Two other men were shot in the leg but survived the injuries.

Neither Yvette nor Kyrie were the targets of the gang-related shooting.

"Today, the City of Buffalo got justice," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters following Austin's guilty verdict. "Not just the family members. Not just us here in the DA's office. Today, the entire City of Buffalo and our entire community got justice."

Along with the second degree murder conviction, Austin, 26, was convicted of the assault of two men who were also shot that night and for criminal possession of a weapon.

Flynn said the testimony by two women was vital in their case, which was largely based on circumstantial evidence. One of those witnesses was Austin's girlfriend and another women who overheard conversations about Austin. Another witnesses did not testify out of fears to his safety. The witness who did not testify ultimately moved to Las Vegas.

"In this case, we had a weapon that was obviously recovered from Mr. Austin but we couldn't definitively, through ballistic evidence, prove that that was the weapon used," Flynn said. "There was circumstantial evidence surrounding that weapon, though. There were circumstantial evidence from the EZ-Pass records (and) his cell phone records. There was circumstantial evidence from the video (on Peach Street) that showed cars driving around the area."

Defense attorney James Auricchio said he disagreed the verdict and that there were "too many leaps" in the circumstantial evidence.

Authorities still believe there were others involved in the double murders. Flynn said those involved are on his radar but there hasn't been enough evidence to arrest and charge anyone with a crime.

Austin will be sentenced on March 23. He faces anywhere from 64 years to life in prison. The district attorney suggested he is interested in speaking with Austin about finding who else was involved in the shooting, but stopped short of promising leniency

MORE TROUBLE FOR AUSTIN

Austin is also facing a separate murder charge stemming from a 2017 shooting on East Ferry Street.

He's accused of murdering 24-year-old Luis Flores near Bissell Avenue on March 19 that year. Along with a murder charge, he's also been accused of criminal possession of a weapon. His next court date for that incident is on February 24.

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