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Big Man

Antoine Garner turns on the charm as he's escorted into a Tonawanda court to face charges that he harassed the mother of a murdered young woman.

“Fuck you all,” Antoine Garner muttered as he was led by Erie County sheriff’s deputies into the Tonawanda City Hall on Tuesday morning.

That’s the attitude that landed Garner in Judge Joseph Cassata’s court room, where he is charged with aggravated harassment of Leslie Brill, the mother of Amanda Wienckowski, the 20-year-old Niagara Falls woman whose frozen body was discovered in a stolen garbage tote in January 2010, not far from Garner’s Spring Street residence.

Garner, 25, was cursing reporters on Tuesday morning, first and foremost, but also Amanda’s family and friends, and especially Brill, who is convinced Garner murdered her daughter. A little over a month before her corpse was discovered, a friend had driven Amanda to Garner’s house to complete a transaction that included drugs or sex or both. (Amanda struggled with addiction to heroin and other opiates, and sometimes turned to prostitution to support her habit.) County coroners quickly declared Amanda’s death an accidental overdose, despite plentiful evidence of violence to her body and the presence of a date rape drug in her system. Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III and Buffalo police seemed happy to accept that conclusion and close the investigation. Amanda’s family was not satisfied, however, and for nearly two years have sought to conduct their own inquiry, stonewalled every step of the way by law enforcement officials, who have been reluctant to share any information—even Amanda’s body parts—with the family.

When questioned by police after Amanda disappeared, Garner denied she’d been to his house. Later he allowed that she had come to his house to buy Oxycontin and then left 10 or 15 minute later, alive and well. Brill has made no secret of her belief that Garner knows more about Amanda’s death than he admits.

Brill took out a complaint against Garner early this year, alleging that Garner has harassed her, leaving a threatening message on her phone and this communication via Facebook:

Listen u stupid bitch I wasn’t the last one to see it daughter alive!! And if u put my name on ur fb again I’ma file a suit for defamation u fucking crackhead!! U white ppl kill me yall always trying

to blame me for this, but

was it my DNA or

pattersons DNA that was

found in the whore??

Didnt I willingly give the

police 2 DNA samples didn’t I willingly let the

stupid police search my

house twice?? Heaven

forbid a white man killed

ur fucking daughter, Idon’t know who is worse

u or drunk ass Dennis

deleano, or ur fucking

lawyer that looks like

Newman from the

Seinfeld show! Maybe If

the dumb ass police

would’ve shown me

a picture of ur daughter

from the beginning i

woulda knew who they

where talking bout

bunch of jackasses!! But

keep my name out ur mouth and off ur fucking

page I sat on my porch

that day while u and the

rest of ur Klan was

across the street that

day and nothing was

said to me but u kkk r so tough when u on fb fuck y’all!!! Black power bitches!!! Heaven forbid u crackers believe this fucking white whore that was looking to buy drugs didn’t get killed by me, oh yea that is just outlandish to believe!!! Fuck u, and Esmonde and the other bitch that tried to get injustice by throwing away my precious black life with those bullshit articles hahahahahahaha!!! The champ is still standing all hail king justice!!!”

Garner is being held at the Erie County Holding Center, charged with an assault on a woman in June on Jewett Parkway. He’s been arrested in the past for rape, too, but he beat that charge. He’s a big man, built like an offensive lineman who’s gone to fat: well over 300 pounds, at least six-foot-five. As he was escorted down the hallway toward the courtroom, Garner called Brill a liar. “She lied to the Reverend Pridgen, too,” he said, referring to Darius Pridgen, the Ellicott District councilman and pastor at True Bethel Baptist Church, which has a congregation on Swan Street, near Garner’s residence. Pridgen, too, remains unsatisfied with the official explanations of Amanda’s death and the disposal of her body, and led his parishioners—including Garner’s mother—in posting fliers throughout the neighborhood asking for information.

Brill and Garner carried on a tense staring contest as he waited to be called before Cassata. Brill thought she heard him say, “You want a piece of me?” As the deputies loaded him back into the van to return him to the Holding Center, Garner explained to a Buffalo News reporter that he’d said, “You want a picture?” because she would not stop staring.

“I know he killed her,” Brill said afterward. She’s hopeful that Garner’s two arrests will draw public attention back to the case and compel authorities to release more information to the West Coast coroner whom the family has commissioned to deliver a second opinion on Amanda’s cause of death. (That coroner’s preliminary findings indicate Amanda was strangled.) In recent weeks, Brill says she’s received calls that appear to be routed through a computer so that caller ID indicates they come from her own phone number. On the other end of the line she hears breathing, and the sound of a young woman crying.

Cassata set Garner’s bail at $5,000 and ordered that he be assigned an attorney; no bail has been set on the assault charge in Buffalo.

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