Man admits to killing two people during a robbery of a New York Chili's restaurant

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Source: DeWitt police; Unsplash

Aug. 24 2021, Published 5:13 p.m. ET

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A man admitted to federal charges in connection to a robbery and double murder at a New York Chili's restaurant in 2018.

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William D. Wood, Jr., 35, pleaded guilty to three federal offenses, including one count of robbery and two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and murder, according to prosecutors.

Wood admitted he planned and carried out the armed robbery at the Chili’s in DeWitt, New York. During the commission of the robbery, he directly caused the deaths of two people by use of a firearm, according to federal prosecutors

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Wood admitted that during the early morning hours of Sept. 15, 2018, while armed with a loaded gun, he forced his way into the back door of a Chili’s, where four employees remained to close the restaurant.

He held all four employees on the ground at gunpoint, and after obtaining the available cash from the restaurant’s safe, shot and killed Stephen Gudknecht and Kristopher Hicks, prosecutors said.

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Wood said that his gun malfunctioned as he tried to shoot another employee, allowing time for that employee and a fourth employee to hide from Wood, according to prosecutors.

Wood was previously sentenced in New York state court to life without parole following his plea of guilty to on state charges, which included two counts of first-degree murder.

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Wood’s federal sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 29, 2021. He faces maximum federal sentences of 20 years on the robbery conviction, and life on each of the two firearms offenses, according to federal prosecutors.

Wood will serve his state life sentence first, and if he is ever released by New York State, he would then start any federal sentence that is handed down.

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