Court overturns Cortland man's manslaughter conviction

Editor's Note: The following story was originally published by The Ithaca Voice.

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ITHACA, N.Y. -- A court overturned a 2013 manslaughter conviction for a man who allegedly admitted to shooting someone to death in Ithaca.

Gary Lowe, of Cortland, was convicted of killing Fransico “Rico” Santiago, 26, in a residence at Chestnut Hill Apartments on Dec. 1, 2011 in the city of Ithaca, reports say.

Related: Two charged in Ithaca with December 2011 murder

Court documents state that a negotiated plea deal mandated that Lowe confess to the shooting -- first-degree manslaughter -- in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence and five years of probation. He was sentenced by Tompkins County Judge John Rowley on May 3, 2013.

In a ruling made Wednesday, an appellate court decided to overturn the conviction, "Because the record does not demonstrate that defendant's guilty plea was knowing, voluntary and intelligent..."

The documents goes on to say that it was never made clear to Lowe that, in taking the plea, he would not be allowed to appeal the conviction and that Lowe did not know that pleading guilty was the equivalent of being found guilty by a jury after a trial.

"While we are mindful of defendant's lengthy criminal record and the fact that he has entered numerous guilty pleas over the last 2½ decades, the record does not demonstrate that defendant understood and waived his constitutional rights when he entered the guilty plea at issue here," the ruling states.

The judgment was reversed and further proceedings are being remitted to the Tompkins County Court.

Read the entire document below:

Manslaughter conviction overturned

Featured photo by Brian Turner of Flikr. 

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