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POLICE & COURTS

Man, 49, pleads guilty to killing his ex-boss

A South Buffalo man pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his former boss.

Jonathan Lewicki, 49, of South Park Avenue, admitted to State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns that he stabbed and killed Conrad E. Pinker, 79, on July 10, 2011, in the victim's West Seneca home.

Pinker was the longtime owner of the Garden Spot nursery at Harlem Road and William Street in Cheektowaga.

Lewicki, whose criminal background includes drug offenses, burglary, larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, had been fired from a job at the nursery in the weeks prior to the homicide, according to West Seneca police.

Shortly after the murder, police were able to trace Pinker's stolen van to South Buffalo, near the suspect's home on South Park.

Pinker was a widower and had been living alone at the time of his death. His granddaughter found his body on the floor of his Laurelton Drive home.

Lewicki will face 18 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced by Burns on June 12.

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Driver charged in hit-run killing boy waives hearing

The Lancaster man accused of driving drunk in a May 3 hit-and-run crash that killed a 14-year-old bicyclist waived his right to a felony hearing Tuesday in Lancaster Town Court.

The case against Michael C. Ettipio, 23, next would be sent to an Erie County grand jury, which would decide whether to indict him in the death of Bryce W. Buchholz, a Lancaster Middle School student from Elma.

Police charged Ettipio with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, driving while intoxicated and failure to keep right. District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said the case won't be presented to a grand jury until the accident investigation is finished.

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Police probe two shootings on Brinkman Avenue

Buffalo police homicide detectives are investigating the shooting of two people in the 100 block of Brinkman Avenue at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Though one of the victims was only grazed by a bullet, the other appears to have serious injuries, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Confidential TIPCALL Line at 847-2255, Text a Tip to (716) 847-2255 or email the department at www.bpdny.org.

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Assault victim Casal is released from ECMC

TOWN OF NIAGARA -- Niagara Falls boxer and junior welterweight contender Nick Casal, who was beaten unconscious Saturday night, was released from Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo, on Monday night with hundreds of staples and stitches in his head.

Town police are "negotiating" with relatives to bring a person of interest in the case into the police station for questioning, Police Chief H. James Suitor said Tuesday.

Casal was ambushed and severely beaten with some type of a metal weapon at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday in the Belden Center area of the town when he stopped to pick up his new girlfriend. Suitor said witnesses are unclear on the type of metal weapon, which he said has been described as a golf club, or a rake, among other things.

"We honestly don't know," Suitor said of the weapon.

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Fire hits vacant house; investigation under way

Fire tore through a vacant two-story house shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday at 18 Verdun Ave.

Buffalo firefighters remained on the scene at mid-evening.

No injuries have been reported, and fire officials say an investigation in the cause of the fire already has begun.

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Rollover crash injures man, who is charged with DWI

A rollover crash in the Town of Concord late Monday injured a 27-year-old man who also was charged with driving while intoxicated, Erie County sheriff's officials said.

Andrew Bialota was driving his pickup truck westbound on Genesee Road at about 10 p.m., when he lost control of the vehicle. The truck failed to stop at the stop sign at Mortons Corners Road, crossed over the center line, rolled over into a ravine and struck a tree, authorities said.

Volunteers from the East Concord Fire Company treated Bialota at the scene, before Mercy Flight took him to Erie County Medical Center, where he was in fair condition, officials said.

Bialota was charged with DWI, failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to keep right, according to police reports.

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Forestville man killed as motorcycle hits guardrail

SHERIDAN -- A 38-year-old Forestville man was killed late Monday after his motorcycle struck a guardrail on Route 5, Fredonia-based troopers said.

Michael A. Case was found down an embankment and pronounced dead at the scene after the crash, which occurred shortly after 10 p.m.

Case was heading east at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his vehicle, which struck the guardrail on the south shoulder of the road, according to state police reports.