NIAGARA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 61-year-old Town of Niagara man pleaded guilty to a hate crime, the Niagara County District Attorney announced Friday.

Howard Murphy admitted to vandalizing his neighbor’s fence by spray-painting a violent message containing a racial slur on to it.

The crime occurred on May 16, two days after the Tops mass shooting. Murphy pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in the second degree as a hate crime.

Murphy was previously indicted on the felony charge in July 2022. He is scheduled to return to court on April 19 and faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison.

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Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.