NORWICH – In late December, 21-year-old Cody D. Coleman pleaded guilty in Chenango County Court to killing 16-year-old Amelia Wakefield.
The shooting took place more than two years ago on May 3, 2019.
In exchange for a 20-year prison sentence he pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter. He shot the victim, his reported girlfriend at the time, with a shotgun at close range.
The incident occurred at about 6:45 p.m., on May 3, 2019, at 136 Water Street in the Town of Smithville.
Inside the home police found the victim, Amelia Wakefield, of Oxford, with a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Police said the victim and defendant were in a relationship and Coleman's mother was also at the residence at the time of incident.
Chenango County District Attorney Michael Ferrarese said from early on in the investigation Coleman was the only possible suspect in the case. “There was no doubt as to who the shooter was,” he said.
The Chenango County Court confirmed Coleman accepted a guilty plea to first degree manslaughter and will be sentenced to 20 years in prison as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Coleman was 18 when he was arrested. About a month after the shooting in 2019 a grand jury indicted Coleman for second-degree murder, a Class A felony; first-degree criminal use of a firearm, a Class B felony; and fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon, a Class A misdemeanor.
Chenango County Sheriff Ernie R. Cutting Jr. said police, “turned over every stone.”
“This has been very upsetting for the community. To lose such a vibrant young lady is a terrible, terrible thing,” he said. “Her life will never be replaced.”
“As we got into the investigation a couple stories changed. Also, we got forensics back confirming the direction we are on. At that point it changed from a death investigation into a homicide investigation,” Cutting said.
The sheriff said the office had tracked down more than 150 leads in the case. He also noted the strong community response.
Ferrarese said Coleman had been looking at 25 years to life behind bars if convicted of the top murder charge by a jury.