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Defendant rejects plea offer in Falls murder case

LOCKPORT – Opening arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of Darrell J. Belton Jr., a Niagara Falls 18-year-old charged with murder, after Belton rejected a plea offer Monday.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. told Belton that he would be sentenced to 25 years in prison if he would plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted as charged, Belton risks a maximum sentence of life in prison with as many as 40 years before he would be eligible for parole. In addition, Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said, Belton faces three open sets of drug charges, each of which carries a nine-year maximum, which would be dropped if he took the deal.

Belton is charged with killing William A. Reilly, 30, with two gunshots to the upper chest in the victim’s residence on Pierce Avenue in the Falls on the night of Sept. 23. Hoffmann said her case will feature testimony by Reilly’s girlfriend, who made a 911 call that will be played in court, as well as the seizure of 10 .22-caliber short bullets from a car Belton crashed while fleeing police. Two bullets that seemed to be “class-consistent with .22-caliber” were removed from Reilly’s body, defense attorney Jeremy D. Schwartz said while trying unsuccessfully to have Kloch suppress the seized bullets.