Man sentenced to 25 years for Cheektowaga Town Park killing

Aug 26, 2013

Dontre Jones, 19, has been given 25 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed, for the 2011 shooting death of Ira Watkins, Jr. in Cheektowaga Town Park.

In June, Jones was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in a non-jury trial in Erie County Court. A second-degree murder charges was dismissed at the time.

The 20-year-old Watkins was in the Criminal Justice Program at Erie Community College at the time of his murder. The shooting on May 31, 2011 happened in front of as many as 75 people in the Harlem Road park.

"This was a very difficult case from the beginning. The work of the Cheektowaga Police Department was outstanding. It enabled us to come to this successful conclusion today," said Erie County District Attorney Homicide Bureau Chief James Bargnesi.

"I think 25 years is a fantastic sentence and we couldn't have hoped for anything more."

Before sentencing, Jones expressed remorse, telling the court his "heart goes out to Watkins' family."

Upon his release Jones was ordered to serve five years probation.