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The family of a Buffalo man who was fatally stabbed the day after Christmas in his Elmwood Avenue apartment has forgiven his killer, who lived in the same building.

Rita Kabalan, the victim’s niece, told Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk at Monday’s sentencing that her family wants Pedro Rivera to have the best life he can and to get the best healing he can while in prison.

Rivera, 37, apologized to the Kabalan family and told the judge he was ready to pay for his crime.

Franczyk sentenced Rivera to 25 years in prison, the maximum term for first-degree manslaughter.

Rivera was originally charged with second-degree murder for the Dec. 26 slaying of Yousef Kabalan, 68, in the Stuyvesant Apartments at 245 Elmwood near Summer Street.

He pleaded guilty July 2 to the reduced manslaughter charge, on the condition he receive the maximum prison sentence followed by five years of post-release supervision.

The fatal attack occurred while Rivera allegedly was selling the victim prescription drugs. A dispute arose over the price, according to defense attorney John J. Gilmour.

Kabalan’s body was found three days later.

Before sentencing Rivera, Franczyk said he marvels at the range of emotions he sees among victims’ families at sentencing.

The families are understandably hurt by the defendants’ actions, he said, and some are unable to forgive them.

“But this family forgives you,” he told Rivera.

The judge said Rivera seemed genuinely remorseful, underscoring “the stupidity of what happened – the taking of a human life.”

He told Rivera he didn’t understand why he killed Kabalan.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com