Judge Allows Buffalo Man To Avoid Prison, Gives Probation For Fatal Shooting
A Buffalo man who fatally shot another man was only sentenced to probation for the shooting death. People have received jail time for lesser crimes (see some of the judge's rulings below), but this man was just given a sentence on probation for killing a man. If I was a family member of the deceased man I would be horrified by the sentence.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced that the 63-year-old man was sentenced on the morning of Friday, January 6, 2023, before State Supreme Court Justice Paul B. Wojtaszek to 5 years of probation. Michael B. Rattle of Buffalo received the extremely lenient sentence over the objection of the prosecutor.
The deadly shooting took place on Sunday, January 10, 2021, at approximately 4:00 am. Rattle killed his friend, 63-year-old Daniel Wolfe, with a shotgun he legally owned. The fatal incident happened inside of the defendant’s apartment on Geary Street in Buffalo. It's not clear from the District Attorney's news releases how or why the shooting happened.
Rattle was indicted on one count of Murder in the Second Degree on May 12, 2021. He was facing a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
Judge Wojtaszek found Rattle guilty of one count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree on September 9, 2022. His decision was rendered after a one-day bench trial. According to The Fast Law Firm,
New York Manslaughter in the Second Degree is a Class “C” Non-Violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison. The minimum sentence on Manslaughter in the Second Degree is 1 to 3 years incarceration.
Rattle spent approximately two years in jail, however, Judge Wojtaszek could have sentenced him to up to 15 years in prison. Judge Wojtaszek, a Republican from Tonawanda, has sentenced people to serve prison time for lesser offenses:
- Joshua Mack of Buffalo was sentenced by Judge Wojtaszek to an indeterminate sentence of 1-3 years in prison for one felony count of Prohibition of Animal Fighting.
- Former Buffalo Firefighter Robert Johnson, Jr. (a second felony offender) was sentenced by Judge Wojtaszek to an indeterminate sentence of 2 to 4 years in prison.
- Clifford G. Tulloch of Buffalo was sentenced by Judge Wojtaszek to 22 ½ years in prison for one count of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, one count of Assault in the First Degree, and one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree.
- Kalah Schultz of Brant was sentenced by Judge Wojtaszek to 6 months in jail followed by 5 years of probation for one count of Vehicular Assault in the First Degree.
These are just a few examples of Judge Wojtaszek sentencing people to jail time for crimes that did not result in death.
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