Cheektowaga man to spend 15 years in prison for sexually motivated strangulation

Cheektowaga

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Cheektowaga man was sentenced on Friday to 15 years in prison, and another 15 years of post-release supervision, after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Sonny Martinez, 27, recklessly caused the death of his girlfriend while they were having sex inside his apartment this past January. 23 year old Brittney Balbuzowski died as a result of erotic asphyxiation.

“My heart is broken in so many places they could fit through the eye of a needle,” said Mike Balbuzoski, the victim’s father who begged Erie County Court Judge James Bargnesi to impose the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Martinez pleaded guilty to a sexually motivated manslaughter charge. He admitted to strangling the woman in his Ivanhoe Road apartment in Cheektowaga last January in a fatal attempt at erotic asphyxiation.

Martinez immediately called 9-1-1, according to his attorney, Kevin Spitler. “He attempts to provide CPR. He gets back, he calls, ‘Where are you, hurry, hurry.”

When it came time for Martinez to speak, he addressed the victim’s loved ones gathered in the Buffalo courtroom. “I know you probably don’t want to hear anything I have to say but I just want to let the family of Brittney and her friends know that I’m truly and deeply sorry. I know it can’t take the pain away, but I just hope one day you could get through this and forgive me,” said Martinez.

Balbuzoski was a teacher’s aide who worked with the learning disabled in Buffalo Schools. She also leaves behind a 6 year old daughter, according to her father. “It’s worrisome that my grand-daughter is going to find out one day without us telling her, how she lost her Mommy. When do we tell her, how do we tell her, at what age. We’ve asked counselors and the best they could give us is ‘You’ll know when the time is right’, and there is no right time.”

In handing down the 15 year prison sentence, Judge Bargnesi acknowledged that even with a guilty plea it’s a case where neither family is satisfied. “All too often in this building, we have situations like these that leaves families destroyed,” said Judge Bargnesi.”

When he is released, Martinez will be required to register as a sex offender. At that time it will be determined what level sex offender he will register as.

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