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A Cheektowaga man pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree assault for shooting an innocent female bystander as he fired at a witness in a brutal North Buffalo murder case and missed the intended target.

Kentie Crump, 19, faces five to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced July 21 by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia. He is being held without bail.

As part of the guilty plea, a charge of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon was dismissed, prosecutors said.

Crump and his co-defendant, Eric Smith, 24, of the Town of Tonawanda, were charged in the shooting shortly after midnight Aug. 5, 2012, outside an apartment building on Colvin Avenue near St. Lawrence Avenue.

Prosecutors said Crump and Smith were arguing with a man over his cooperation with police in the investigation of the July 5, 2012, slaying of 16-year-old Darren Brown. The murder victim was stabbed 54 times on the former railroad tracks off Colvin, then dumped in a wooded area nearby, where his body was later burned.

During the argument with the witness, Smith handed Crump a loaded revolver, which Crump fired once at the man, prosecutors said. The shot missed the witness but hit his girlfriend in the leg, shattering the bone.

Smith was convicted of the assault and weapon charges by a jury last May and faces five to 25 years in prison at sentencing by Buscaglia on a date to be determined.

The witness, who prosecutors said was targeted in an attempt to intimidate him, eventually testified at the March 2013 trial of Ezeiekile Nafi, one of two suspects accused of killing Brown.

The jury acquitted Nafi, who was 16 at the time of the slaying, of second-degree murder but convicted him of first-degree manslaughter.

Buscaglia sentenced him last May to the maximum 25-year prison term.

The witness could not be found to testify at the trial of Demetrius Huff last October.

The jury convicted Huff, who was 17 at the time of the killing, of second-degree murder.

Buscaglia sentenced him in January to the maximum prison term of 25 years to life.

The fatal attack was allegedly linked to gang rivalry, although the victim’s family said he was not a gang member.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com