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Falls man takes plea deal on strangulation

LOCKPORT – Christopher James of Niagara Falls, who was indicted last year on a charge of rape, pleaded guilty to a non-sex crime Monday in Niagara County Court.

James, 48, of Fairfield Avenue, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree strangulation for choking a woman on the night of May 27-28 in his apartment.

“We acknowledged there may be some proof problems on the sexual assault aspect of the case,” Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco said.

James, a repeat felon because of two prior convictions for selling drugs, faces mandatory state prison time of up to four years when he is sentenced May 20 by Judge Sara Sheldon. But James risked a maximum 25-year sentence if he had been convicted of first-degree rape.

Sheldon accepted a request by defense attorney James J. Faso Jr. to reduce bail for James from $50,000 to $25,000 after the plea, because of the lesser charge to which James had admitted. He’s been in the County Jail since his arrest June 5, and that time will count toward his sentence.