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Niagara Falls man pleads guilty to stabbing boyfriend to death

LOCKPORT – A Niagara Falls man who stabbed his boyfriend to death in the early hours of Dec. 26 accepted a plea offer Monday.

William E. Swanson Jr., 22, of 38th Street, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the death of Troy Haslip, 26, who was stabbed once in the chest in a confrontation near railroad tracks on Ontario Avenue in the Falls.

Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III made no commitments regarding sentencing, which he scheduled for July 18.

Defense attorney Robert Viola said Swanson might have been able to make a self-defense argument. “It’s a close call, too close to take a chance with,” Viola said. “The proof would show there was aggressive behavior by the victim.”

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said Swanson and Haslip had a history of domestic incidents that drew the attention of Falls police. But as for whether there was a chance for Swanson to prove self-defense, the prosecutor said, “I don’t believe there was.”

She said the fatal weapon was a pocket knife, which Swanson used to stab Haslip once in the chest. Viola said a knife belonging to Haslip was found at the home of Haslip’s mother on Ontario Avenue, where the men had spent Christmas Day, and Swanson’s DNA was not on that knife.

“They were in a long-standing relationship,” Viola said. He said the men returned to the Ontario Avenue house after the stabbing, but paramedics were unable to save Haslip’s life.

Hoffmann said the men lived together for a time. Swanson was living on Jerauld Avenue at the time of the killing.

Swanson, who was charged by police with first-degree manslaughter, did not wait to be indicted before pleading guilty.

Second-degree manslaughter is defined as recklessly causing a death, and under New York law, a prison sentence is not mandatory for that crime, Viola said. Murphy’s sentencing options for Swanson range from probation to 15 years in prison. In the meantime, Swanson is free on a $25,000 bail bond.