Man released after gun arrest connected to double homicide shows up to court

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A defense was mounted today for the man arrested and released with no bail in connection to the deadly double shooting outside a nightclub this summer.

There was a lot of controversy and concern this week when a city court judge released Dennis Speed bail-free. Speed is not charged with murder. He’s charged with having an illegal gun and when he was scheduled to be in court today, he showed up.

RPD says in July, Speed shot and killed a man who shot a killed another man outside a bar on North Street.

Speed declined to talk. But his lawyer, Leticia Astacio, did.

Brean: “You believe he was acting to protect other people or himself?”
Leticia Astacio, defense lawyer: “I think if there was any involvement by another person, my understanding is that an individual came to a nightclub with a gun and fired, I don’t know, in excess of nine other shots into an area that was crowded with patrons. … So whoever decided to intervene to stop a mass murder normally would be heralded as a hero.”

Monday, RPD expressed surprise and concern when Speed was released after he was charged with the gun charge.

“I’m so glad you brought this up, Berkeley,” Astacio said. “That’s because people don’t understand bail. Bail is just to ensure that a person will return to court. He hasn’t been convicted of anything. He’s accused and in this country we say people are innocent until they’re proven guilty, so why would we have innocent people in jail?”

Because of Speed’s prior felony convictions, the DA’s office wanted bail at $35,000.

Matthew Hogestyn, Assistant District Attorney: “The assistant district attorney that was present for the arraignment of Mr. Speed did request bail based upon his criminal history and the nature of the allegations. However, bail was not set at arraignment.”

“And it’s just devastating to see him standing there. To see him get to just walk away,” said Voncile Seawright, the mother of Ervin Wiggins.

Wiggins is the person RPD says Speed shot and killed.

Seawright say Speed and her son were friends. Wiggins was Voncile’s only child.

“I don’t know where I get the strength from, but I guess it’s just because I want to see justice for my son,” she said.

The case now goes to the grand jury.