James W. Howard of Lockport was sentenced to 25 years in state prison Tuesday for the stabbing death of a Niagara Falls man.
Howard, 28, of Weld Street, had pleaded guilty June 13 to first-degree
manslaughter for the killing of Daniel F. Sparks, 44, sometime between Oct. 14 and 16.
Sparks' family reported him missing Nov. 1, and his decomposed remains were found Dec. 6 in a brushy area behind the Cataract Steel plant on Mackenna Avenue in the Falls.
An autopsy showed Sparks was stabbed 27 times in the torso and upper legs.
The last time anyone saw Sparks alive was Oct. 14. But phone records showed his cellphone was last used two days later, Second Assistant District Attorney Mary Jean Bowman said at the time of the pleas by Howard and a co-defendant, Carl M. Hosmer, 29, of Niagara Falls.
Hosmer, who was promised a sentence of no more than 18 years in prison, is scheduled for sentencing Wednesday. He admitted stabbing Sparks once, but when he pleaded guilty, he said that Howard lured Sparks into the brush and "went haywire on him."
"There's no question in our minds that he was the ringleader," Assistant District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said.
Defense attorney Brian J. Hutchison disputed that, saying that Howard's version was that he punched Sparks during a fight between Sparks and Hosmer."
"It's my belief that you were the killer. Hosmer was the follower," State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. told Howard.
"I'm sorry for lying," Howard said. "It was all over drugs, getting high and money."
Second Assistant DA Mary Jean Bowman read a letter from Sparks' sister, Sheila Sparks, that called the victim a kind and trusting person."
At one time, Howard and Hosmer lived with Sparks in Sparks' apartment.