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Suspect in Cheektowaga murder held for grand jury

Defense attorneys for murder suspect Thomas M. Szczesniak waived his right to a felony hearing Wednesday before Judge Paul Piotrowski in Cheektowaga Town Court, and the case will be presented to an Erie County grand jury.

Szczesniak, 53, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the Friday evening shooting of his tenant, Joseph Lawrence Jr., in the driveway of Szczesniak’s Woodell Avenue house.

Lawrence, 54, died in surgery at Erie County Medical Center after he was shot during an argument with Szczesniak, Cheektowaga police said.

Szczesniak was sent back to jail without bail after his court appearance.

Police said Szczesniak and Lawrence were friends who had gone out together for cocktails on the night of the altercation.

Assistant District Attorney James F. Bargnesi, chief of the homicide bureau, is prosecuting the case.

The defense team of Jeremy D. Schwartz and James Auricchio represents Szczesniak.