Grucza Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Death of Toys R Us Manager

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The man accused of killing a Hamburg Toys R Us manager last year has plead guilty.

Bernard Grucza plead guilty to manslaughter on Monday in front of Judge Penny Wolfgang. Grucza also waived his right to appeal his conviction.

JUDGE: Did you with intent to cause serious physical injury to Lawrence C. Wells III, did you cause his death by stabbing him?


JUDGE: And where did this occur?

GRUCZA: At Toys R Us. In the office.

JUDGE: Toys R Us, in the office.

GRUCZA: And what did you stab him with? A knife.

Grucza stabbed to death, Larry Wells the assistant manager at the Toys R Us in Hamburg. Wells was found dead inside the store in late June.

Bernard Grucza's attorney, Frank Housh says Grucza has been in denial about killing Wells, until now.

"My client did not wish it to happen, it did happen, he was responsible for it, he's taking responsibility for it and I know it's his hope that this will bring some closure," Housh said.

Grucza's was a regional director for Toys R Us and knew Wells. Housh says Grucza went to the store to steal money from a safe. His family was facing bankruptcy and had debts to pay because Grucza's wife had been battling breast cancer.

Gruzca stabbed Wells twice and showed up hours later at the scene.

"It shows a certain level of manipulation, I think it gives you a window into a sociopathic character and that he would go back and try to appear to be cooperative," said Frank Sedita, the Erie County district attorney.

If this case went to trial, prosecutors think they had enough evidence to convict Grucza of murder. Evidence that included DNA from a Florida Gators hat he wore and left at the scene. And, DNA that Grucza's left on a video surveillance system, which he disconnected.

Grucza will be sentenced on May 19.

According to the defense attorney, Grucza will also plead guilty on Tuesday in Federal Court to a separate charge, unrelated to the stabbing. A grand jury indicted him on multiple charges earlier this year, including making false statements during a firearm purchase and having a firearm while under a domestic order of protection.


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