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Judge sentences killer to 20 years

A former Niagara Falls man will spend the next 20 years in prison for stabbing a man to death during an argument last year.

Dennis Ray Washington, 47, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter two months ago in the death of Kevin Smith, was spared a longer sentence Friday by State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller.

The judge said he was giving Washington credit for saving family members from the trauma and taxpayers the expense of a lengthy murder trial but rejected defense lawyer John K. Jordan's plea for further leniency.

Jordan told the judge that Washington, 47, "has been remorseful from Day One" and "accepted responsibility" for the violent incident.

Prosecutors James F. Bargnesi and Thomas M. Finnerty said Washington, who was arrested in Niagara Falls a day after the fatal incident, beat Kevin Smith, 43, on the head 16 times with a hammer before repeatedly stabbing him in the throat as they argued. The incident happened June 2 in Smith's home on Chenango Street.

Washington, who has a lengthy record of arrests in Niagara Falls, was living on Fairfield Avenue at the time of the fatal incident. He initially was charged with second-degree murder.

Smith, 43, a former Jamestown businessman, had been paroled from state prison in March 2008 on a Chautauqua County fraud conviction and faced sentencing in federal court here on tax fraud charges.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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