LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Niagara County District Attorney’s Office appealed an order last month that granted a new trial for a Niagara Falls man who spent a decade in prison for two armed robberies.

Michael Agee, 30, was released from prison last month after prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence that raised doubt about his involvement in the 2010 armed robberies.

Specifically, prosecutors failed to provide Agee with a DNA report obtained after Agee’s 2013 sentencing. The report showed that some DNA found on a knife recovered at one of the robbery locations in the city matched the DNA of another man, Darius Belton.

But Agee’s legal team obtained the DNA report by a Freedom of Information law request in 2021, more than seven years after Niagara County prosecutors received it.

Supreme Court Judge Betty Calvo-Torres’s decision states that the DNA evidence linking Belton to the knife “was not enough to establish a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been more favorable to the defendant.” However, Belton testified in a separate case that he, not Agee, committed one of the armed robberies.

As a result, “the newly discovered DNA evidence becomes material and compelling as it tends to support Mr. Belton’s claim that he was one of the perpetrators,” Calvo-Torres wrote.

In addition, prosecutors failed to hand over a detective’s 2011 police report until Agee’s legal team filed the open record’s request. The report linked Belton and two other people to the second armed robbery.

“The report would have provided the defense with a new avenue of investigation had it been provided before trial,” Calvo-Torres wrote.

Other factors the judge considered included how Belton and Agee had similar appearances, which raises the potential that an eyewitness misidentified Agee as the culprit. The judge also mentioned how Belton demonstrated “an intimate knowledge” of the details in one of the armed robberies, and he testified he provided weapons to the culprits in the second armed robbery.

The cumulative effect of prosecutors failing to hand over the DNA report and police report “was that the defendant was denied a fair trial,” Calvo-Torres wrote.

Seaman said the appeal is “simply a formal step necessary as we evaluate the case and determine what course to pursue.”

Dan Telvock is an award-winning investigative producer and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.