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2nd defendant in Niagara Falls home invasion gets 10 years

LOCKPORT - Erika A. Cooper, who took part in the invasion of a Niagara Falls home occupied by two elderly women, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in state prison.

Friday, her co-defendant, Jason S. Markovitz, was sentenced by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon to 20 years for his part in the April 24 burglary and robbery of two sisters, ages 89 and 95. The elder of the two had to be admitted to a nursing home in the wake of the crime, in which the cord on her oxygen tank was cut off and used to tie the sisters to chairs. About $2,000 in cash and property was stolen, including debit cards.

Friday, Markovitz, 39, sought to blame Cooper for coming up with the idea of burglarizing the women's home. Monday, Cooper, 38, placed the blame on Markovitz. Both were drug addicts looking for money or items they could sell to get more drugs, their attorneys have said.

Cooper said of Markovitz, "He seemed like a decent dude, but I was also out of my mind." She repeatedly said she was sorry, adding, "As soon as I gave my statement (to police), I tried to kill myself. ... My soul hurts."

Cooper's attorney, David J. Mansour, asserted that Markovitz forced Cooper "at butcher-knifepoint" to ransack the home and go through the women's purses. Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said the victims never saw any such exchange, although one of the sisters said Markovitz held a knife to her throat.

Hoffmann said Cooper was offered a lesser plea than Markovitz, who has been to state prison twice before. The prosecutor said Cooper "was a little bit less involved in tormenting the women who lived there, although she did fully participate in ransacking the house."


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