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Man pleads guilty in murder of Chautauqua Institution violinist

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One of the two men charged in the slaying of a New York City violinist at her Chautauqua County summer home has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Charles Sanford, 31, 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.


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