Buffalo man admits to strangling woman, robbing elderly victim

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo man has pleaded guilty to all 13 counts against him following two April 2022 incidents in which he robbed an elderly woman and strangled another female victim, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Officials said on April 1, 2022, 34-year-old Michael T. Sawyer punched, slapped, and strangled a female victim inside a Buffalo home during an argument. She became unconscious and suffered a concussion. Sawyer stole her phone and her keys and used her vehicle in connection with a robbery days later.

On April 5, 2022, officials said Sawyer used the female victim’s vehicle to drive to a grocery store on Harlem Road in Cheektowaga. There, he attempted to forcibly steal a purse from an 80-year-old woman.

The victim was dragged by the stolen vehicle as she held onto her purse and fell to the ground, resulting in head trauma and other serious physical injuries. She was taken to ECMC and remained there for several weeks.

The stolen vehicle was later found parked on Miller Avenue near Broadway in Buffalo. Police confronted Sawyer when he was walking up to the vehicle and he then attempted to flee. Sawyer was taken into custody after a short chase and held on $200,000 bail.

He has since pleaded guilty to the following:

one count of first-degree assault

one count of first-degree attempted robbery

one count of second-degree robbery

one count of second-degree strangulation

one count of fourth-degree grand larceny

one count of third-degree assault

two counts of endangering the welfare of a child

one count of fourth-degree tampering with a witness

four counts of criminal contempt in the second-degree

Sawyer faces a maximum of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced in June. A temporary order of protection issued on behalf of the female victim and her children remains in effect.

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Kayleigh Hunter-Gasperini joined the News 4 team in 2024 as a Digital Video Prducer. She is a graduate of Chatham University.

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