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Kenneth Minor pleads guilty to manslaughter in suicide-for-hire slaying of Jeffrey Locker

Kenneth Minor appears in Manhattan criminal court on

Kenneth Minor appears in Manhattan criminal court on Monday, August, 25, 2014. Minor pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 in a suicide-for-hire case. Credit: Bryan Smith

The Harlem man who helped Woodmere motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker kill himself pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree manslaughter as part of a plea deal that calls for a 12-year prison sentence.

Ex-con Kenneth Minor, 41, was convicted of murder in 2011 and sentenced to 20 years for the 2009 stabbing death of Locker in a bizarre suicide-for-hire plot, but the conviction was reversed over improper jury instructions on the defense of assisted suicide.

Minor already has served more than 5 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Oct. 20.

He earlier was sentenced to prison for a year in a 2007 attempted robbery case.Locker's bloody body was found in his car in Harlem in July 2009. Testimony at trial showed he was in debt, acquired $12 million in life insurance for his family and hired Minor to help kill him. Minor claimed he held a knife and Locker thrust his body on it.

The plea followed extended legal wrangling. Minor's defense team says he was guilty only of aiding suicide, second-degree manslaughter in New York. Prosecutors wanted to try him for both murder and second-degree manslaughter, giving jurors a choice. The defense said it was improper to combine his old murder indictment, obtained before cops realized Locker had set it up, with a new second-degree manslaughter charge. But when the judge sided with prosecutors, Minor agreed to a compromise plea and avoided risking a murder conviction.

"He wants this to be over," defense lawyer Dan Gotlin said. The deal, Gotlin said, still allows Minor to appeal, and he'll be allowed to plead to second-degree manslaughter if an appeals court knocks out the murder charge.

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