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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Two Men Sentenced In Connection With Murder In Chautauqua County

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051 

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today Jonathan Conklin, 45, who was convicted of carjacking, was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The sentence will be served consecutive to a 25 years to life sentence Conklin received in Chautauqua County Court for murder.
In addition, Judge Skretny sentenced co-defendant Charles Sanford, 32, to 15 years for unlawful possession of a firearm and conspiracy to transport a stolen vehicle in interstate commerce.
“The victim in this case, Mary Whitaker, represented the best of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “While the defendants' cowardly actions may have taken her life, they will never extinguish her generous and caring spirit which continues to live on in all who knew her.” 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who handling the case, stated that Conklin and Sanford robbed Mary Whitaker inside her Sherman, NY home on August 20, 2014. The two men approached the victim’s home and Sanford rang the doorbell. Soon after Whitaker answered the door, Conklin shot and killed her. Conklin and Sanford then stole her vehicle and drove it to Erie, Pennsylvania where they were arrested on August 22, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Hochul further stated “Today's sentence all but guarantees that these defendants will never be in position to injure another person.”
        The sentencings are the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Acting District Attorney Patrick Swanson, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, and the City of Erie (Pennsylvania) Police Department, under the direction of Chief Randy M. Bowers.

Updated May 23, 2016