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Teen gets 7 1/2 years to life in killing

A 16-year-old was sentenced Wednesday to a possible life term in prison for killing a grandmother who was shot by a stray bullet.

Axel E. Pizarro, of Pennsylvania Street, was ordered to serve a prison term of 7 1/2 years to life on his second-degree murder plea for the fatal shooting of Edith Torres.

Pizzaro was sentenced as a juvenile because he was 15 at the time of his arrest.

Joseph J. Terranova, Pizarro's attorney, told the judge he doubted that his "immature client, very familiar with video games, really understood the consequences" of firing a weapon like the .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle he repeatedly fired on Seventh Street that July night.

But State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia countered that Pizarro recently told an Erie County probation officer he had been "trying to shoot" a West Side girl he had been arguing with for more than a year.

A stay-at-home mother of four, Torres moved onto Seventh Street with her family two weeks before she was shot. She apparently had gone downstairs after hearing a loud argument between Pizarro and several girls.

Pizarro, who has been held at the city's Youth Detention Center on East Ferry Street, will be shipped to the state prison system's Elmira Reception Center and likely stay there until he turns 17 or 18 and can be placed in the general population of an adult prison, prosecutor Christopher J. Belling said.

Under an agreement that led to Pizarro's Jan. 8 plea to the highest charge lodged against him, the judge agreed to impose the minimum-allowable 7 1/2 -year-to-life term, court officials said.

Pizarro's brief release from custody July 24 -- reportedly due to a courthouse clerical error -- prompted a belated review and reported tightening of both City Court and Youth Detention Center record-keeping systems.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark and Belling credited Buffalo homicide Detectives Reginald Minor, Patrick A. Judge and Timothy J. Salamone with the investigative work that led to Pizarro's arrest five days after the incident.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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