Axel E. Pizarro pleaded guilty Monday to fatally shooting an innocent bystander on her Seventh Street porch as he sprayed rifle shots at a girl arguing with one of his friends last July 5.
State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia has to sentence Pizarro, a member of the notorious Seventh Street Gang, as a juvenile because he was only 15 at the time of the slaying of Edith Torres, 46. He faces a prison term of 7 1/2 years to life.
Pizarro has been jailed since his July 12 arrest, except for several hours July 24, when he was accidentally set free due to a City Court clerical error.
After Monday's court proceedings, he was returned to the Erie County Youth Detention Center on East Ferry Street pending his April 4 sentencing.
Pizarro, 16, of Pennsylvania Street, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder but gave no explanation.
Prosecutor Christopher J. Belling told the judge the pretrial plea was acceptable because that was the highest charge lodged against Pizarro.
He pleaded guilty to killing the mother of four, who stepped onto her porch after hearing the loud argument on the street outside her home.
Because Pizarro was only 15 at the time, the maximum prison term he faced would have been 15 years to life rather than the maximum 25 years to life an adult would face for a second-degree murder conviction, according to court officials.
Pizarro got the 7 1/2 -year minimum, instead of 15 years, because he pleaded guilty before trial.
Pizarro's brief release from custody in July reportedly prompted a review and tightening of City Court and Youth Detention Center record-keeping systems.