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Falls break-in brings term of 15 years in prison

A Niagara Falls man was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison for breaking into a Niagara Falls home at gunpoint, knocking a woman out of a wheelchair and firing a shot that narrowly missed a 14-year-old girl holding a baby.

Keith E. Kritz, 22, of Hyde Park Boulevard, received the maximum sentence under terms of a plea offer he accepted in October, when he admitted to first-degree burglary.

Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano said the word "wrong" doesn't cover what Kritz did on the night of May 13 in a Ferry Avenue home.

"There should be a word above that for what he did," said Catalano, who obtained a plea deal for the second-time felon that saved him from a sentence of up to 25 years if he had been convicted at trial.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza suggested the word "horrific."

"I guess what's really frightening is what you're capable of when you're under the influence of drugs," she told Kritz.

"I wasn't intentionally firing [the gun]," Kritz said. "As I was leaving the scene, I tripped over the lady in the wheelchair. That's how she fell out of the wheelchair. I didn't knock her out."

Kritz said the gun went off when he fell.

A co-defendant, Cory S. Shon, 22, of Girard Avenue, is to receive a two-year sentence next week on his plea to attempted second-degree burglary.

In another case Friday, Brandon H. Carter, a reputed Niagara Falls gang member, came close to accepting a plea deal that would bring him a maximum two-year prison sentence for gun and cocaine possession.

But Carter feared that prosecutors would have Sperrazza cancel the sentencing commitment if they weren't happy with the statement he was required to give them about the gun case as a condition of the deal.

He faces a maximum of 9 1/2 years behind bars if convicted on the original indictments.

After a lengthy delay, attorneys decided Carter, 22, of 10th Street, should give the statement before pleading guilty. Carter is due back in court next Friday.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said DNA was found on the assault rifle police seized after arresting four men June 7 on 19th Street, following a report of gunfire in which a bullet ricocheted off a car, narrowly missed two children and struck a house.

"I made it clear to all the defendants in this case that if their DNA is found on this weapon, there will be no more pleas after [Friday]," Hoffmann announced in court.

Carter is supposed to plead guilty to attempted third-degree weapons possession and attempted fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. He had nearly a gram of cocaine when he was arrested in a March 18 traffic stop.

Arthur E. Jackson, attorney for Cornelius D. Porter, 17, of Seventh Street, said his client will plead guilty in the gun case next Friday. But Robert L. Howard, 19, of Fourth Street, refused to plead and gave a DNA sample.

Korey T. Barney, 19, of Buffalo, took a misdemeanor plea in the gun case two months ago.


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