New York man pleads guilty to murder in strangulation of teenage girl near Long Island park

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MINEOLA, New York — An attorney for a suburban New York man who admitted strangling a teenager he met near a Long Island park said Friday that his client pleaded guilty to second-degree murder to save his family and the victim's family from going through a trial.

Maxwell Sherman, 19, of Long Beach, was indicted on murder and sexual abuse charges after the August 2013 death of 18-year-old Lauren Daverin-Gresham. Police and prosecutors said Sherman killed the woman after meeting her near a Rockville Centre park that is a popular gathering place for teenagers.

The victim's partially clothed body was found on a footbridge near the park.

Defense attorney William Petrillo told reporters the plea agreement required his client to admit only to the murder charge.

"Maxwell made a well-informed decision considering multiple factors: the strength of the evidence in the case (and) his desire from the beginning ... to spare both his family and the victim's family a long, drawn-out trial," Petrillo said.

Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Everett Witherell said the victim's family signed off on the resolution of the case, which calls for Sherman to spend 18 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 11. If convicted of both counts in the indictment at trial, Sherman could have faced up to 32 years to life in prison.

The victim's mother, Kathleen Daverin, was surrounded by more than a dozen relatives and friends at the proceeding.

"I'm just glad justice was finally served for my little girl," she said in a brief statement to reporters before breaking down in tears outside the courthouse.

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