A Hudson Valley man who admitted he killed a 20-year-old local firefighter is heading to prison.

On Monday in Orange County Court, 20-year-old Jauntae Brown was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison for the stabbing death of 20-year-old Justin Speights.

In March, Brown pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in connection with the New Years’ stabbing death of Justin Speights at a party in the Town of Crawford.

According to Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, the sentence is the maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter.

“Justin Speights was an exceptional young man, and his slaying was a senseless act of violence,”  Hoovler said.  “The circumstances which gave rise to his death were no doubt exacerbated by the underage drinking which occurred at this party. Senseless violence and alcohol frequently go together.”

In the early morning hours of January 1, 2016, 20-year-old Justin Speights, a volunteer firefighter, and many others attended a New Years’ Eve party at a home in the Town of Crawford.

Most of the partygoers were underage and most were drunk when multiple fights broke out, officials say.

While trying to break up one of those fights, Brown stabbed Speights twice in the abdomen, killing the 20-year-old volunteer firefighter.

Along with his guilty plea, Brown admitted that Speights was unarmed when he was stabbed and that he did not stab Speights in self-defense.

Brown, a student at SUNY Delhi, was arrested almost a year after the murder, on the SUNY Delhi campus. He was originally charged with second-degree murder.

Brown was the third person to be arrested following Speight’s death. Two other Hudson Valley residents are accused of tampering with evidence after the murder.

In early October, 21-year-old Robert A. Lemmount of Circleville was charged with tampering with physical evidence.

In late November, 20-year-old Rasso Chambers was arrested on the same charges. Both deleted electronic evidence from their cell phones on the night Speights was killed, police say.

Following the murder, the Silver Lake Fire District offered a $10,000 dollar reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible. Shortly after, the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association increased the reward to $20,000.

“I am particularly thankful for the actions of the Silver Lakes Fire Company not in only in recovering the key item of physical evidence in this case, but also for all the assistance they provided to the police and my office by urging members of the community to come forward with information concerning this crime,” Hoovler said.  “Their spirit of volunteerism, which was shared by Justin Speights, enriches all the community as they continue to cope with their loss.”

Speights graduated from Pine Bush High School in 2014. He served as a volunteer firefighter for the Silver Lake Fire District for four years until his murder.

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