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TWO ADMIT GUILT IN KIDNAP DEATH

Two Buffalo men pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree manslaughter and assault charges in the kidnap-slaying of a Buffalo high school student and revenge stabbing of another man.

Kentrel S. Jeffries, 18, of Barton Street, and Joseph Jackson, 19, who has no known local address, entered the pleas before State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang as she was beginning a first day of jury selection at their murder trial in the slaying of Bobby L. Hayes, 17.

Jeffries and Jackson, who had been jailed for months, also pleaded guilty to first-degree assault for what authorities described as a street gang revenge stabbing of an 18-year-old man Jan. 5 on Rodney Street.

Wolfgang accepted the guilty pleas after agreeing to the demand of homicide prosecutor Kenneth F. Case that she impose prison terms of at least 20 years and up to 25 years.

The judge sent both Jeffries and Jackson back to jail pending sentencing.

About six weeks before Hayes was killed, Jeffries had been released in New York City after serving an eight-month jail term in a robbery case.

He faces sentencing Jan. 19.

Jackson will be returned to court for sentencing Jan. 20, court officials said.

After the plea proceeding, Case confirmed that an investigation is continuing involving a possible third suspect in Hayes' slaying. He declined further comment.

Jeffries, Jackson and their unidentified companion kidnapped Hayes, a junior at Riverside Institute of Technology, at about 11:30 p.m. last Jan. 28 on Arkansas Street in what authorities initially thought was a botched robbery.

But they later concluded he had been linked to a plan to rob a fast-food restaurant about half a mile from where his body was found -- in a snowbank on Mason Alley, between Auburn Avenue and Breckenridge street.

After Hayes' friends and relatives apparently rejected demands to pay a ransom for his release, he was repeatedly stabbed, and his throat was slashed, according to police reports.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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