A city resident pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday for gunning down another man after an argument last October.
Terell Bethea, 28, admitted to one count of second-degree murder in the Oct. 5 shooting death of 43-year-old Charles Bowman on Schenectady Street, minutes before school buses left off children in the area.
In exchange for his plea, Bethea is to get 17 years to life in state prison. He is to be sentenced June 5.
The shooting was sparked, prosecutor John Healy said later, by a burglary that morning on Paige Street — one not involving Bowman.
Police were called that morning to investigate the burglary, the victims of which were associated with Bethea. After police left, Healy said, Bethea started his own personal investigation, zeroing in on a house on Schenectady Street.
Bethea confronted the people at that house, believing they either were involved in the burglary or knew who was. Bowman was in that group, though he did not live at the house.
The argument escalated, with those at the house saying they knew nothing of the burglary. At some point, Healy said, Bowman took out a pocket knife.
Bethea then pulled out a gun.
“From what we’re able to put together, once the gun is pulled, everybody runs away,” Healy said; that included Bowman.
As they fled, Bethea opened fire. Bowman was struck once in the side and once in the back and died later at a hospital.
There was also evidence that a second person was hit by a ricochet, Healy said.
Street surveillance cameras were instrumental in helping sort out what happened, he said. Though they didn’t catch everything, they caught enough to show that anything involving Bowman and the knife was over and Bowman was fleeing by the time Bethea opened fire.
After the shooting, Bethea stashed the murder weapon under some brush at the Hamilton Hill Arts Center. Within a half hour of the shooting, he turned himself in to police and led investigators to the gun.
Healy said Bethea seemed genuinely remorseful. His remorse, the fact that he turned himself in and led police to the gun, and his relatively limited criminal history led prosecutors to offer a sentence of 17 years to life in return for a guilty plea.
The investigation into the underlying burglary remains open, Healy said.
Bethea is represented by attorney Sven Paul. Paul confirmed Healy’s assessment of his client. “He’s been remorseful since first day I met him,” Paul said.
Bethea’s mother was in court for the plea, Paul said. Paul declined to comment further on the case.
The plea was taken by Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.