No one seated in Haffa retrial

MAYVILLE — No one was seated in the first day of jury selection in the retrial of a Cheektowaga man accused of attempted murder of a Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputy.

About 80 potential jurors were brought in for the retrial of Justin Haffa in Chautauqua County Court in Mayville. Preliminary questions were asked to those summoned for jury duty, and will pick back up today at 9:30 a.m. in front of Judge David Foley.

Haffa, who is being represented by the Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office, was indicted on charges of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer.

Police allege Haffa became combative while being administered a field sobriety test Sept. 11, 2016, after he crashed his vehicle on Route 60 near Pomfret. Haffa reportedly attacked a sheriff’s deputy during the sobriety test and fled the area. He was later taken into custody by Sheriff Joe Gerace and Lt. James Quattrone of the Sheriff’s Office.

A mistrial was declared in September by Foley after Public Defender Ned Barone notified the court his office had not received a DNA report used by the prosecution. A T-shirt and fingernail clippings from Haffa were collected by investigators shortly after the incident as well as a swab from the sheriff’s deputy. The items were sent to a forensic lab in Erie County and a report on its findings were used in court.

The mistrial came shortly after the District Attorney’s Office rested its case.

Barone said Haffa maintains his innocence in the incident.

“What we’re going to do is the same we did in the first case,” Barone said Tuesday. “The fact is he has maintained his innocence from the very beginning. We certainly question the proof and evidence. We think it is lacking.”