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Two plead guilty to manslaughter in brutal beating death

Two men facing trial in the brutal beating death of a man they barely knew pleaded guilty to manslaughter Tuesday morning in Erie County Court.

Prosecutors say they still aren’t sure why Kenneth Smith, Juakeen Glenn and Mahalia Guest attacked Rafael A. Martinez in Smith’s apartment on Nov. 11, 2014, but that neighbors in the building and from outside heard and saw at least part of the assault. Martinez, 57, of West Avenue suffered extreme blunt force trauma to his head and body and was stabbed in the neck before he was taken outside and dumped in an alley behind 13 Arnold St.

He was dead when a person passing by the next morning found his body.

Investigators believe Martinez was a casual acquaintance of Smith’s who sometimes did small jobs for him at the apartment at 83 Grant St., where Guest also lived. Glenn, of Hempstead Avenue, apparently was a visitor the day Martinez was killed.

Assistant District Attorney Gary W. Hackbush, who prosecuted the case, praised the efforts of Buffalo police in finding Martinez’s killers and also commended witnesses for their willingness to come forward.

All three defendants were arrested in December 2014. After they were indicted on charges of second degree murder, Guest, 22, admitted to her role in the crime and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was expected to testify against Smith and Glenn, who were set to be tried separately.

A jury already was empaneled to hear the case this week against Smith, 38, when he and Glenn, 30, agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in the first degree.

This is the second felony conviction for Smith and the second violent felony conviction for Glenn. In accepting their pleas, Judge Thomas P. Franczyk committed to a sentencing range of 20 to 25 years in prison. Guest faces anywhere from five to 25 years.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com