A youth admitted Thursday he had participated in killing Gary Trzaska of Cheektowaga, who was stomped to death on Broadway after collecting rent on properties he owned in Buffalo.
William Nance, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter as a third day of jury selection was about to get under way before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio in his trial on charges of second-degree murder. The judge told Nance he still faces a prison term of 20 to 25 years when he is sentenced Nov. 3.
With several members of Trzaska's family in the courtroom, Nance admitted that he and others took part in the fatal attack, but he did not publicly identify his accomplices.
None of Trzaska's relatives would comment, but Sharon Simon, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said a family member might make a statement to the judge during Nance's sentencing.
Dennis Straughter, 19, is scheduled to stand trial in January on first-degree murder charges in the case. But Thomas J. Eoannou, his attorney, has filed a series of pretrial motions attacking the validity of the first-degree murder charge against his client.
Nance could not be charged with that more serious felony because he was 16 at the time.
Trzaska, 41, was attacked late Oct. 2 on Broadway near Titus Avenue. Although authorities and family members initially thought Trzaska -- who was gay and white -- had been the victim of a hate crime victim -- those accused of the attack are black -- investigators later concluded he was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Authorities have said they still were trying to pin down enough evidence to arrest at least one more person in the slaying.
After first confessing to the crime, Nance recanted and maintained for months that he had been wrongly accused of complicity in the slaying. But when DiTullio today asked him if he had killed Trzaska "aided by others," he replied, "Yes."