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Homeless man reveals details in killing of man missing for 7 weeks

Carl M. Hosmer admitted Wednesday that he took part in the killing of a man whose decomposed body was found about seven weeks after his death.

Hosmer said Daniel F. Sparks was killed by co-defendant James W. Howard, who "lured him into the back of the woods and went haywire on him."

But under questioning by State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., Hosmer admitted he stabbed Sparks once.

Hosmer, 29, who was listed as homeless, accepted a plea offer to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter in exchange for a sentencing limit of 18 years in prison.

Howard, 28, of Weld Street, Lockport, is under indictment on a murder charge. His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.

The body of Sparks, 44, was found Dec. 6 in some brush behind the Cataract Steel plant at 1973 Mackenna Ave. in the Falls. His family had reported him missing Nov. 1.

An autopsy showed Sparks was stabbed 27 times in the torso and upper legs. Niagara County Second Assistant District Attorney Mary Jean Bowman said the date of death was sometime between Oct. 14 and 16. The earlier date was the last time anyone saw Sparks alive; the later date was the last use of his phone, according to phone records.

Hosmer said in court that Howard lured Sparks "into the back of Buffalo Avenue. I didn't know it was a set-up."

Buffalo Avenue is two blocks south of Mackenna Avenue, where Sparks' body was found.

Court-appointed defense attorney Patrick M. Balkin said the reason for Howard's attack on Sparks is "not real clear." He didn't think it was a robbery.

"I don't think Mr. Sparks had any drugs," Balkin said.

"I was high at the time. I was high on K2," Hosmer told Kloch. "I just stood there frozen."

Kloch could have given Hosmer up to 25 years for the manslaughter charge.

"Somewhere along the line, there's a little shred of decency," Kloch told Hosmer. "You told a family member that Mr. Sparks had been murdered. That's the only reason I agreed to the cap of 18 years."

Hosmer's sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 9.

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