msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/14/2010 11:52:21 AM ET 2010-07-14T15:52:21

A 90-year-old grandfather on Wednesday admitted battering his wife of nearly 68 years to death with a hammer.

Seated in a wheelchair, John Bunz pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter as part of a plea bargain in state Supreme Court in Buffalo. He had been initially charged with second-degree murder.

Authorities said Bunz hit his 89-year-old wife, Virginia, about 30 times with a hammer on March 21 in the retirement village apartment they shared in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst.

Bunz is being held without bail and faces five to 25 years in state prison when he is sentenced Sept. 7.

Neither of the couple's two adult children were in court, but prosecutors say both approved the plea deal.

Bunz, a grandfather of two, reportedly attempted to commit suicide following the attack.

Speaking to The Buffalo News in March, the executive director of the retirement village, described the incident as a "shock".

Frank Miosi said the couple "seemed to get along all right."

When asked whether the pair had made a suicide pact, Amherst Assistant Police Chief Timothy Green characterized the incident as a "domestic homicide".

“I’m not aware of any other motivation," Green told The Buffalo News in March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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