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Deliberations to begin in Klimczak murder trial

Jurors today begin deliberations in Craig M. Lynch's trial for the killing of Sister Karen Klimczak, director of the Bissonette House.

Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio Thursday advised the jury to be ready for final legal arguments this morning after admonishing the panel to completely avoid news reports.

The trial came to an abrupt halt after six days at midday when the judge barred Lynch's attorney, David R. Addelman, from questioning Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson before the jury about statements he made to The Buffalo News, CNN and other media on the case last April. The judge ruled Gipson was not a so-called "expert witness" capable of testifying about the nature of the killing.

The jury will consider two counts of first-degree murder for the intentional slaying of the nun last April 14; three counts of second-degree intentional and felony murder for her slaying during a crime; and single counts of first-degree robbery and burglary.

With the approval of prosecutors Thursday, the jury will also consider a lesser count of first-degree -- or intentional -- manslaughter based on Addelman's contention that a drug-crazed Lynch, 36, accidentally killed the 62-year-old nun when she confronted him as he was stealing her cell phone from her bedroom in the Grider Street halfway house for parolees.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Lynch faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole. If convicted of second-degree murder, he faces a life sentence with a minimum stay of up to 25 years. He faces a 25-year prison term if convicted on the manslaughter charge for causing the nun's death while trying to seriously hurt her.


Vacant church on Colvin hit by by vandals

An unoccupied Colvin Avenue church was broken into and vandalized Thursday morning, according to Buffalo police reports.

The pastor at Korean United Methodist Church, 383 Colvin Ave., told police that burglars knocked out a basement window fan to gain entry sometime between midnight and noon Thursday.

Once inside, they vandalized the church and sprayed graffiti throughout the building.

The church has been unoccupied for about three months. Police said it appears entry was made on several occasions. Walls were damaged, paint was splattered inside and a door was broken, according to reports.

Korean United -- which has about 100 members -- signed an agreement this summer to share space at Trinity United Methodist Church on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst.


2 firefighters injured at Jones St. house fire

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries Thursday morning while battling a blaze at a vacant Jones Street house that spread to an occupied neighboring home. The firefighters remained on duty.

Fire officials said flames erupted on the first floor of 60 Jones just after 5 a.m. and quickly spread to the second floor and attic of the 2 1/2 -story structure. Damage was estimated at $60,000.

The blaze spread to 58 Jones, an occupied house, causing about $20,000 in damages to the building and $8,000 to the contents.


$8.2 million settlement accepted in crash suit

A onetime prison nurse who suffered serious injuries when his car was rear-ended has agreed to a pretrial insurance settlement that will net him $8.2 million, his attorney said Thursday.

Jason Lapp, now 32, of Cheektowaga, agreed to the settlement, which was approved by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia. The negligence trial in the case was slated to begin in about a month.

On Sept. 15, 2003, Lapp was driving home from his job at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden when he was hit from behind by a vehicle driven by 19-year-old Andrew Brzyski on Walden Avenue near Harlan Street in Depew. Lapp suffered permanent back and leg injuries that cost him his prison nursing job.

Brzyski was driving a PT Cruiser leased by Skidmore Inc., an East Aurora sewing company which employed his mother, Mary Brzyski. Mrs. Brzyski had loaned the company vehicle to her son, Luna said.

Attorney Jason C. Luna said the structured settlement will be shared by DaimlerChrysler Financial Services Trust and carriers for Skidmore.


Christmas gifts stolen in N. Buffalo burglary

A burglar stole wrapped Christmas presents, cash and other belongings during a break-in Wednesday at a North Buffalo home.

Northwest District police said entry was gained through the back door of a home in the 100 block of Hinman Avenue sometime between 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

The intruder also stole $200 from an upstairs bedroom, a personalized Lenox tree, a personalized throw, CDs, toys, a cat throw, purse, ornaments and a Lenox mug. The items were valued at about $1,200.

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