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Manslaughter plea entered for Cheektowaga beating death

The Cheektowaga man who killed another man in a barehanded beating in a parking lot fight pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to manslaughter.

Cody J. Jeffords, 21, admitted in Erie County Court that he inflicted fatal injuries on 19-year-old Justin Vanderwalker on May 25. Jeffords originally was charged with second degree murder in Vanderwalker’s death, but pleaded to the lesser charge of manslaughter in the first degree, which carries a maximum possible prison sentence of 25 years.

Jeffords attacked Vanderwalker outside the Idylwood apartment complex on Slate Creek Drive in Cheektowaga when he thought Vanderwalker was seeing his girlfriend, investigators said. The victim was beaten until he collapsed, and he died three days later in Erie County Medical Center from blunt force trauma.

The beating occurred in front of a number of witnesses, prosecutors said. Jeffords was found at the scene “literally with blood on his hands,” according to Assistant District Attorney John Patrick Feroleto.

Jeffords was charged with assault prior to Vanderwalker’s death; the murder charge followed. He has been held without bail since his arrest.

Judge Sheila A. DiTullio set sentencing for Feb. 1.

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