Family wants the max

The first of two sentencings in the manslaughter case regarding 73-year-old Frank T. Slate Jr., the Fredonia man killed in September 2012, is set to occur Monday morning at 10 a.m. in Mayville.

Christopher M. Grant, 28, of Dunkirk, previously pleaded guilty in December 2012 to participating in shooting Slate with a 16-gauge shotgun following an argument at Slate’s Porter Avenue home. Grant faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years, according to Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley.

“This is a pre-determined sentence since the judge has committed to a sentence prior to the plea, so we know what he (Grant) is going to get,” he said, adding that information cannot be released until the actual sentencing. “He pleaded to the indictment, which was second-degree manslaughter, a Class C felony. Manslaughter is a reckless act; it’s considered a non-violent offense under the law, so there is no minimum sentence and they are indeterminate sentences.”

Elizabeth Alvarado of Silver Creek, Slate’s oldest grandchild, is hopeful to be given the chance to speak on behalf of her family at the sentencing. The letter she hopes to read is on Page A7 in the Opinions section.

“My grandpa is gone forever. As hard as you try to look past the manner in which his life ended to remember the positives, that’s not really possible,” she said in the letter. “My grandpa was somebody. He mattered. No one deserves to have their life ended that way. According to the plea deal, these monsters will be out of jail long before my daughter finishes elementary school. I urge the court to place a higher value on my grandpa’s life and sentence those who are responsible for ending his life to the maximum time allowed.”

Fredonia attorney Jason Schmidt represents Grant’s legal counsel. Schmidt confirmed Foley’s remarks that an agreement on the sentencing had been reached ahead of time.

“He (Grant) had been bailed out at the time of his plea, so he has been out and he’s also been a fairly productive person during that time, working and busy being a father, but preparing himself for state incarceration,” he said.

Grant’s accomplice, Theodore S. Wickham, 46, of Dunkirk, recently pleaded guilty to the crime in mid-January. Wickham’s sentencing is set for March 17.

“In Wickham’s case, the court has committed to a sentence, as well, which is longer than Grant’s, but Wickham was the one that actually fired the shot,” Foley said.

Comments on this article may be sent to