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MAN ADMITS BEATING SON OF GIRLFRIEND TO DEATH

Jose Castellano pleaded guilty Monday to fatally beating the young son of his Town of Tonawanda girlfriend.

During a pretrial proceeding in the second-degree murder case, Castellano accepted a prosecution plea offer to a first-degree manslaughter charge in the Jan. 21 beating death of 15-month-old Ronnie Holmes.

Castellano, 28, has been jailed since his arrest several days after the incident in the Cobb Street home he shared since last October with Rebecca Newbury, 23, and her three sons. Castellano did not talk about the motive for the fatal attack.

Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio refused a sentencing commitment and ordered him to remain jailed pending sentencing July 6.

After the proceeding, prosecutor Christopher J. Belling said Castellano also had been charged with beating Ronnie's 3-year-old brother. That charge was dropped in the plea deal. He confirmed that Newbury, now living with relatives, faces sentencing next month before Town of Tonawanda Judge Frank Caruso on her March 2 plea to three misdemeanor child endangerment counts for her treatment of the two boys and their 7-year-old half-brother.

Newbury was not in court for Castellano's guilty plea and could not be reached.

Belling told DiTullio the fact that Castellano now faces a mandatory state prison term of five to 25 years ensures justice for the slain boy.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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