Man pleads guilty in murder of Chautauqua Institution violinist

Oct 1, 2015

One of the two men charged in the slaying of a New York City violinist at her Chautauqua County summer home has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Charles Sanford has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing of violinist Mary Whitaker.
Credit File photo

Charles Sanford, 31, entered his plea Monday in Chautauqua County Court in Mayville. Prosecutors say Sanford will be sentenced in February to a potential 15 years to life in state prison if he cooperates in the trial of his alleged accomplice, 44-year-old Jonathan Conklin.

Authorities say the two homeless men fatally shot and stabbed 61-year-old Mary Whitaker of Manhattan during a robbery inside her summer residence in Westfield in August 2014. They were arrested two days later. Conklin's trial is scheduled to begin early next year. 

Whitaker was a violinist with the Westchester Philharmonic who spent summers playing at the Chautauqua Institution.