Days before his trial was scheduled to begin, a Buffalo teenager has pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court in the fatal shooting of a Burgard High School student one year ago.
Lawren Goins, 17, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree for shooting Kristian Piazza, 16, on Oct. 13, 2016. Piazza and Terrell Lockett, then 16, were walking near Leroy Avenue and Hill Street in the Central Park neighborhood that evening, according to investigators, when someone brushed past them and, when they stopped, turned and opened fire.
Piazza was hit three times and died of his injuries at Erie County Medical Center. Lockett was injured.
Goins also pleaded guilty to attempted murder in Lockett's shooting and to criminal possession of a weapon.
Goins originally was charged with second-degree murder. District Attorney John J. Flynn said he considered the plea agreement a fair resolution to the case because of issues with witness availability and credibility regarding the murder charge.
Although Justice Christopher J. Burns declined to make a firm sentencing commitment in court on Monday, Flynn also said he is confident that Goins will receive "significant prison time" when he is sentenced Jan. 9.
Piazza was born in Jamestown and grew up in Virginia, and had only been in Buffalo since he was a freshman at Burgard, where he was in the manufacturing training program. He was one of three Burgard students killed in 2016.
Shaunice Gamblin was 15 years old when she was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting when she was leaving a party on LaSalle Avenue in March 2016. Police do not think she was the intended target.
Daniel Glover, 17, was killed with a single gunshot when he was walking home on Wecker Street the night of June 19, Father's Day. Daniel was into computers and stayed out of trouble, and no motive for his shooting is known. Investigators have said it could have been a case of mistaken identity.