BUFFALO – The two men accused of killing Mary Whitaker last month in her Westfield summer home have pleaded not guilty to all federal charges during a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
According to a report in today’s Jamestown Post-Journal, 43 year-old Jonathan Conklin and 30 year-old Charles Sanford pleaded not guilty to federal charges of carjacking, use of a firearm to commit a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm.
The three charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The judge has given the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case until Oct. 31 to submit any voluntary discovery material or evidence to the court. The public defenders assigned to the case will then have until Dec. 12 to review the evidence and make any pre-trial motions. Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 28, 2015, but that may be pushed up if no motions are filed by the defense.
Charges related to murder have yet to be filed, pending an indictment by a county grand jury.
The two men are accused of showing up at Whitaker’s home in the town of Westifled during the early morning of Aug. 20, shooting and stabbing Whitaker 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.