SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ A man who pleaded guilty to homicide in his girlfriend's death has filed a lawsuit to collect a $ 10,000 share of her life insurance benefits.

Paul Britton, 41, pleaded guilty in February to criminally negligent homicide in the death of Donna Staniec, 27, admitting only that he slapped the woman two days before she died. A medical expert testified that Ms. Staniec died of head injuries in a fall or from a blow with an object.

Britton's lawsuit contends that he is entitled to the money as co- beneficiary on Ms. Staniec's $20,000 policy because he never admitted to intentionally causing her death in 1987.

Britton's lawsuit, scheduled for hearing Monday, contends that he is entitled to the money as co-beneficiary on Ms. Staniec's $20,000 policy because he never admitted to intentionally causing her death.

''I think it's just sick that a cold-blooded killer can do this,'' said Kathy Proulx, Ms. Staniec's sister.

Britton was placed on probation in February, but he later was sentenced to one to four years in prison for violating probation by assaulting his new girlfriend. He is free on $2,500 bond pending appeal.

Ms. Staniec's mother, Ann Staniec, is the other beneficiary named in the policy with Aetna Life Insurance Co. She already has received her $10,000 share.

Britton's lawyer, Robert Tisdell, said his client deserves the money regardless of his guilty plea.

''He's the beneficiary. I don't feel they can deny paying him,'' Tisdell said. ''If it was intentional he couldn't collect, and I never would have brought the lawsuit.''

Mark Williams, a lawyer for Aetna, which is challenging the request, said the insurance company believes there is evidence that Britton intended to kill Ms. Staniec.

''When there's an intentional killing, the beneficiary forfeits his rights to the proceeds,'' Williams said.

Ms. Staniec's mother was outraged.

''He admitted he killed her and now he wants the money? ''I think it's disgusting. He's got one heck of a nerve.''