ITHACA, N.Y. — A man pleaded guilty Monday to killing Francisco “Rico” Santiago in 2011 using a 9mm gun at the Chestnut Hill Apartments on West Hill.
Gary “Pops” Lowe, of Cortland, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree manslaughter and will be sentenced to between five and 10 years in state prison, Judge John Rowley said.
Santiago, 26, died from a gunshot wound to the torso on Dec. 1, 2011, Ithaca police said at the time.
An appellate court overturned Lowe’s initial first-degree manslaughter plea in November, ruling that Lowe did not fully understand that he was waiving his constitutional rights when he pleaded guilty in 2013.
Rowley, who also sentenced Lowe in 2013, said he was frustrated by the appellate court’s ruling and said that ruling had “nothing to do with [Lowe’s] culpability.”
He asked Lowe if there was “anything in the whole world” that he did not understand about waiving his rights and offered to stay in the courtroom for the entire afternoon to make sure Lowe fully understood what rights he was waiving by accepting the plea deal.
Lowe said he had entered the Chestnut Hill apartment to speak to Santiago, but their meeting ended with the man’s death.
Lowe, represented by Syracuse lawyers Emil Rossi and Michael Spano, admitted to recklessly causing Santiago’s death, saying, “I had a gun in my possession and it discharged and caused the death of another person.”
Rowley said Lowe’s case was not one of “you both were struggling and the gun went off,” but rather that Santiago’s death was caused by Lowe’s recklessness.
Lowe will be back in court on Aug. 26 for sentencing.