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A life of crime has led to a life prison sentence for a Buffalo man convicted of his fifth knifepoint robbery.

Shawn Sivertson, 52, got 20 years to life Wednesday after State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns found that he was a persistent violent felony offender. The finding followed a hearing on his criminal record.

As a result, Sivertson faced a minimum of 20 years to life in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

Before he was sentenced, Sivertson said he was innocent in the most recent case, a holdup last year at a University Heights convenience store.

“This isn’t a life sentence you’re giving me. This is a death sentence,” he told the judge.

Assistant District Attorney Michael P. Felicetta said Sivertson had been committing crimes over the last 37 years following his first arrest when he was 15.

Five of his six convictions during that time were for knifepoint robberies, with three of the holdups involving violence against women.

In the latest case, a jury convicted him of first-degree robbery for a Nov. 4, 2012, holdup of the 7-Eleven at 3211 Main St., near Winspear Avenue.

Felicetta said Sivertson wielded a knife as he approached the clerk and demanded money. When the woman did not open the cash register, Sivertson took $3 from a collection box for cancer victims and fled. As the woman chased him out of the store, she heard him giggling, the prosecutor said.

At the time, Sivertson had been out on parole for only a few days after serving a six-year prison sentence for robbing a woman while threatening her with a knife in the parking lot of a Niagara Street grocery store in 2004.

He also had been convicted of robbing a woman in 1998 as she was walking on the West Side. Felicetta said he put a knife to her neck during the holdup.

Felicetta said Sivertson was addicted to heroin and crack in his youth, and also had mental health problems.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com