LOCKPORT – Algernon R. Dix, who pleaded guilty to killing a man at a private party in a Niagara Falls nightclub and then tried to take back his plea, continued to deny responsibility as he was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison.
Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III refused to allow Dix to withdraw his admission to first-degree manslaughter in the March 7, 2015, death of Franchot B. Wallace, 29, of the Falls. Wallace was shot twice in the back at the 3M’s Club on Highland Avenue.
“When it comes to the family of the victim, I know they’re grieving, but I’m not responsible for the crime,” Dix said.
After Dix said that, a woman on the Wallace family’s side of the courtroom muttered, “I gotta get out of here,” and walked out.
“You didn’t help yourself by your comments here this morning,” Murphy told Dix. The sentence he imposed, which also includes five years of post-release supervision, was the longest allowed under terms of the plea deal. Murphy could have given Dix as little as 15 years.
Dix contended that he was forced into the Sept. 8 plea bargain by his former attorney, Herbert L. Greenman.
Dix’s new attorney, J. Matthew Parrinello, who replaced Greenman after Dix had second thoughts about his guilty plea, had said moments earlier that Dix accepted responsibility for the shooting.
“I think he had a difficulty expressing his frustration that he wasn’t allowed to take back his plea,” Parrinello explained to reporters. He said Dix had wanted to go to trial.
Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said, “Approximately 60 people were there when Mr. Dix walked in and fired shots at Franchot Wallace.” Wallace was hit twice in the back. Hoffmann called the killing “completely senseless.”
Murphy said he received a letter from Wallace’s father, who claimed that his son and Dix, 36, of 16th Street in the Falls, had a dispute dating back two years, which started over a woman. Dix replied, “That’s something I don’t know anything about.”
The judge said the reason for the killing never had been proven to his satisfaction.
Gillian Kantey, the mother of Wallace’s only child, a daughter, told the judge that Wallace was “a great father. Now every March 7 for the rest of her life will be spent at a cemetery paying tribute to her father.”
A presentencing report said Dix had fathered five children by five different women. Parrinello denied that his client was “flippant about having children.”
Parrinello said a lack of information provided by the prosecution to Greenman was a reason for withdrawing the guilty plea, but Murphy ruled otherwise. Parrinello said, “We’re always disappointed if we lose an argument we think we should have won.”
Kantey had a different take. She said in court, “You have a choice in life. You can be right or you can be wrong, and if you’re wrong, you have to pay a price for that … I feel (Dix) should pay to the full extent of the law for what he’s done.”