MAYVILLE – One of the two men involved in the summer 2014 homicide in Sherman has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley is reporting that 31 year-old Charles Sanford reached a plea deal earlier this week in the case involving the death of Mary Whitaker, the Chautauqua Symphony violinist who was killed at her summer home on Aug. 20, 2014.
Sanford pleaded guilty to second degree murder on Monday. Part of the agreement involves his testifying against his alleged accomplice, 44 year-old Jonathon Conklin. The plea deal also means Sanford will not go to trial, which was scheduled to begin in early 2016. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 24 in Chautauqua County Court and faces 15 years to life in prison.
Conklin, meanwhile, is still scheduled to have his case go to trial in early 2016. His next court appearance will be a hearing on Oct. 23.
Conklin and Sanford – who were both from Erie – allegedly went to Whitaker’s summer residence in the town of Westfield during the early morning of Aug. 20, 2014, shooting and stabbing her, and then robbing her home.
After leaving Whitaker for dead and making off with her credit cards and vehicle, the two men returned to Erie. Her body was discovered by a friend later that day. Both Conklin and Sanford were arrested in Erie two days later following an investigation.