Suspect in NYC violinist's slaying pleads guilty to murder

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Friday, October 2, 2015

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WABC) -- One of the two men charged in the slaying of a New York City violinist at her upstate summer home has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

The Post-Journal of Jamestown reports 31-year-old Charles Sanford entered his plea Monday in Chautauqua County Court in Mayville.

Prosecutors say Sanford will be sentenced in February to a potential 15 years to life in state prison if he cooperates in the trial of his alleged accomplice, 44-year-old Jonathan Conklin.

Authorities say the two homeless men fatally shot and stabbed 61-year-old Mary Whitaker of Manhattan during a robbery inside her summer residence in Westfield in August 2014. They were arrested two days later.

Conklin's trial is scheduled to begin early next year.

Whitaker was a violinist with the Westchester Philharmonic who spent summers playing at the Chautauqua Institution.

The Westchester orchestra paid tribute to her on its website, saying she had been with the group for at least 27 years.

"A true and caring friend and an exquisite artist, Mary was loved and admired for her gentleness yet strength, her wisdom, enthusiasm, and generous soul," the tribute said. "We miss her terribly. May she rest in peace."

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