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LOCKPORT – A North Carolina man who killed a female friend of his girlfriend’s in Niagara Falls last fall accepted a plea offer Friday in Niagara County Court.

Richard H. Moore, 50, of Winston-Salem, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and could be sent to prison for as long as 25 years when he returns before County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III on May 2.

Moore showed no interest in the plea offer when it was given to him two weeks ago, but assistant public defenders A. Joseph Catalano and Michael E. Benedict said he eventually thought better of it.

Benedict said Moore was “taken aback” by the offer Jan. 31. Catalano said the two-week break gave him time to talk to his mother and siblings about the situation.

“He didn’t really want to put the (victim’s) family through a trial. He knows what happened,” Catalano said.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said she offered a reduction from the original charge of second-degree murder because of the “totality of the circumstances.”

Among those circumstances, according to Catalano, was the fact that Moore has no prior criminal record. He said Moore has had a career working as a certified nurse’s aide in nursing homes. “He devoted his life to helping people,” Catalano said.

Moore and his girlfriend of more than five years, Cammesoa M. Williams, 42, came to Niagara Falls to attend the wedding of Williams’ cousin. They were expecting to stay in the North Avenue apartment of Tijuana Davis, 39.

However, on the night of Sept. 28, an argument broke out – Catalano said Williams and Davis were arguing over drugs and money – and Moore shot Davis once in the stomach. Williams, a Lockport native now living in Winston-Salem, is charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Police at first charged Williams with shooting Davis after she was down, but upon further review it was determined that the shot Williams fired missed Davis and struck the wall of the home.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com