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The Big Man's Family

Last week, we described Antoine Garner’s entrance into Tonawanda city court to face charges of aggravated harassment, the result of a complaint filed by Leslie Brill, mother of Amanda Wienckowski, the 20-year-old woman whose naked, frozen body was found in a garbage tote near Garner’s Spring Street home in January 2010. Garner insists he knows nothing about Amanda’s death, though he allows that she came to his house the day she disappeared to buy drugs. Brill and her family and friends have maintained that Garner knows more than he admits, and for two years have fought in the courts for the opportunity to conduct their own investigation into Amanda’s death, which Erie County medical examiners declared to be the result of an accidental overdose. The family exhumed Amanda’s body and commissioned a West Coast coroner, Dr. Silvia Comparini, to perform a new autopsy, but that effort has been stymied by Erie County’s foot-dragging and stonewalling on the release of materials and information.

In January, Garner sent Brill a nasty Facebook message, reprinted in the paper back in January and last week, and Brill says he left a threatening message on her cellphone, too. These are the bases for the aggravated harassment charge. Garner’s appearance in the Tonawanda court was tense, as Brill and her supporters congregated to look at the man whom Brill believes is complicit in her daughter’s murder.

Garner also faces an assault charge (with intent to injure, with a weapon) in the City of Buffalo. He appeared before Judge Debra Givens last Wednesday morning on that charge, and Brill was there for that court appearance, too. There was no staring contest, as there had been in Tonawanda the day before. But outside the courtroom, Brill says, she found herself surrounded by Garner’s friends and family: his mother, his brother, his girlfriend, and three others. Brill says the five of them circled around her and began taunting and taking pictures of her. “I was terrified,” Brill says.

Intervention came not from the police officers in the courts building, Brill says, but from an East Side pastor who helped usher her away from the harangue.

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