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Lackawanna man admits fatally stabbing estranged girlfriend

A Lackawanna man admitted Monday that he fatally stabbed his estranged girlfriend 39 times earlier this year in her Lackawanna apartment.

Damoni Hall, 21, of Lehigh Street, pleaded guilty as charged to second-degree murder in the Feb. 15 slaying of Tequila Suter, 26, inside her residence on Wilkesbarre Avenue.

Her body was found the next day when a friend asked her brother, who was the supervisor of the apartment building where the victim lived, to go into Suter’s apartment and make sure she was OK after she failed to show up for church on Sunday.

Hall was taken into custody Feb. 27 at an attorney’s office in downtown Buffalo.

At the time of the arrest, Capt. Joseph Leo, Lackawanna chief of detectives, said he did not know what led to the killing, but he confirmed that Hall was Suter’s boyfriend and that they had lived together in the first-floor apartment.

Although there were no eyewitnesses to the crime and the defendant initially denied harming the victim, circumstantial evidence led to Hall’s arrest and eventual guilty plea, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

Sedita said the evidence included neighborhood video surveillance footage, cellphone tower analysis and forensic DNA analysis that was developed during a joint investigation by the Lackawanna Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.

Hall faces a maximum sentence of 20 years to life instead of the normal maximum of 25 years to life when he is sentenced Jan. 30 by State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller.

The judge said he was capping the sentence at 20 years to life because the defendant’s guilty plea spared the victim’s family from having to endure the trauma of a trial.

Sedita lauded the Lackawanna Police Department investigation led by Leo.

“This case proves, once again, that the Office of the District Attorney will aggressively prosecute when a police agency conducts a thorough and professional investigation that provides us credible evidence, admissible in a court of law, which proves the defendant committed a crime,” he said.

He also cited the efforts of Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable of the DA’s Homicide Bureau and John P. Gerken Jr. of the Felony Trial Bureau.