A man who spent three years in prison for violently shaking his infant daughter pleaded guilty Thursday to stabbing to death his girlfriend and her 12-year-daughter with a razor knife at an apartment in Central New York.
John Brown, 36, wept in court as he admitted killing Helen Buchel, 34, and her daughter, Brittany Passalacqua, at their home in Geneva on the night of Nov. 19. Buchel's 14-year-old son Brandon discovered the bodies the following afternoon.
Brown will be sentenced in July to 40 years to life in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. He was scheduled to stand trial in Canandaigua on Monday on first-degree and second-degree murder charges.
"Our case was strong ... and I felt very confident that a guilty verdict was going to be the outcome," Ontario County District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo said after Thursday's proceeding in Canandaigua. "He will be first eligible for parole consideration in 2050 when he's 76 years old." Brown waived his right to an appeal as part of the plea bargain.
The victims' relatives "don't want to have to worry that, 10 or 20 or 30 years from now, there could be some retroactive change in the law that springs this guy," Tantillo said. "So this is done. This case will be concluded for all time at the sentencing."
Calls to defense attorney Robert Zimmerman went unanswered.
The unemployed Brown, who wears his 18-inch-long hair in a braided ponytail, was arrested the day the bodies were found. No other details about the motive or the circumstances of the slayings have been disclosed.
Last September, Brown was jailed for two weeks for taking Buchel's car without permission, and told he could no longer live with her.
Brown drew a three-year sentence in January 2004 for causing serious physical injury to his infant daughter in March 2003. She has since recovered, but the nature of her injuries was not disclosed.
He got out of prison in June 2006, but returned in March 2008 on a parole violation for illegal drug use and associating with someone who has a criminal record, corrections officials said. Released again in February 2009, his parole term was due to expire two weeks after the slayings.