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Landlord accused of killing tenant arraigned

Posted at 9:35 AM, Dec 16, 2014
and last updated 2015-12-11 09:35:54-05
A landlord accused of murdering his tenant was arraigned Tuesday morning.
 
Prosecutors say during an argument on October 24, Thomas Szczesniak, 54, shot Joseph Lawrence, 54, in the driveway of a home on Woodell Street in Cheektowaga. Lawrence later died at the hospital.
 
Police haven't said what the argument was about.
 
Szczesniak is charged with second degree murder. If convicted he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
 
His attorney claims Szczesniak was acting in self defense.
 
"We are pretty confident that the information that we have developed so far suggests a viable self-defense," added assigned defense attorney, James Auricchio.
 
Details of what happened leading up the shooting are not being released until the trial.
 
"You see a lot of things in this job and it really makes you shake your head at some of them - and this is one of those cases," said James Bargnesi, Homicide Chief for the Erie County District Attorney's Office.
 
Szczesniak is being held without bail while his defense attorney reviews his previous criminal history before making a bail application.
 
Justice Wolfgang set a return date of February 2, 2015 for a pre-trial hearing.