LOCKPORT — The sentencing of a Falls teen, accused of gunning down a man during a mid-summer rush hour on Ferry Avenue in 2020, ground to a halt Monday morning in a battle over the length of the prison term he’ll face.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said he’ll review a transcript of plea hearing for Geoffrey O. Sandiford to determine if he committed to not imposing consecutive prison terms for his guilty pleas to murder and weapons charges.
Sandiford, 18, of Cleveland Avenue, had entered his guilty pleas to single counts of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon for gunning down Nathan Craft in the second of two homicides to hit the city in a 16-hour period on July 21, 2020.
At the time of the plea hearing, news reports indicated that Kloch told Sandiford he would give him a sentence of 15 years to life in prison in return for his plea. However, state law allows for sentencing on weapons charges to be imposed consecutively to any other sentence for any other crime.
Kloch sentenced Sandiford to 15 years to life for his murder plea and First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann told Kloch the weapons charge should be sentenced at 15 years, consecutively, meaning Sandiford would face at least 30 years behind bars.
When Kloch agreed, Sandiford’s defense attorney, Anthony Lana, protested. Lana insisted hat Kloch’s sentencing commitment meant Sandiford should not face a prison term longer than 15 years.
After spirited arguments between Hoffmann and Lana, Kloch said he would go back and review the transcripts of the plea hearing before finalizing his sentence.
Craft, 29, of the Falls was found, around 5:35 p.m., on Ferry Avenue near 12th Street, lying in a pool of blood between his car and the curb. Falls Police Criminal Investigation Division detectives said, at the time, that Craft had apparently been involved in a fight before he was shot “several times.”
He was declared dead at the scene by paramedics.
Police said Sandiford fled the area after the slaying and was tracked down by detectives, assisted by members of the U.S. Marshals Felony Fugitive Task Force, six days later, without incident, in Avoca, N.Y., a town in the northwest corner of Steuben County.
A Niagara County grand jury has also indicted a Falls man as an accomplice to Sandiford.
The indictment charges Rohmeo Lewis,19, with single counts of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Police have said that Sandiford was the triggerman in the case. Prosecutors have not elaborated on what role Lewis played in the murder.