Cathcart Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter Charge

OSWEGO, NY – The Phoenix teen arrested and accused of committing a fatal stabbing at a party in Hannibal in October pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and assault charges at Oswego County Court on Dec 15.

Markee L. Cathcart,
Markee L. Cathcart

Markee L. Cathcart, 19, allegedly stabbed Fulton man, Sean D. Leonard, 23, at a party outside a residence at 99 Kellogg Road in Hannibal in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 24.

Court records show Leonard was punctured by one fatal stab wound in the upper left chest area and was pronounced dead at 3:35 a.m. after resuscitation procedures had been performed for a period of time both on scene and at the hospital.

Cathcart was indicted by a grand jury on one count of manslaughter in the second degree, a class C felony and one count of assault in the second degree, a class D felony.

At his arraignment, Cathcart pleaded not guilty to all felony charges. He appeared alongside his appointed attorney, Joseph Rodak.

Rodak also requested a reduced bail amount of $5,000 cash/$10,000 bond on behalf of his client due to receiving a lesser charge after his original charge of first-degree manslaughter was dropped to second-degree manslaughter by the grand jury decision.

However, Judge Donald Todd chose to go along with the request of District Attorney Gregory Oakes, to adjust the bail amount to $25,000 cash/$50,000 bond from the original amount of $50,000 cash/$100,000 bond.

Oakes stated that prosecutors are ready for trial, giving Rodak until January 26 to submit any motions and in turn giving Oakes until February 16 to respond.

As these charges stand, Cathcart faces a maximum indeterminate sentence of 5-15 years in state prison with a minimum sentence of 1-3 years for the charge of second-degree manslaughter. The charge of second-degree assault runs a maximum determinate sentence of 7 years in state prison with a minimum sentence of 2 years in state prison, according to Oakes.

Depositions from state police and witnesses have given some insight as to what allegedly occurred in those early morning hours in October.

A witness that was attending the party and was in a car with both Cathcart and Leonard recalls Cathcart showing off a knife while in the car.

“It was a folding knife, all black and was six to eight inches long when it was open,” the witness wrote in a statement to state police.

Cathcart claims in his statements that he bought the knife in the days leading up to the incident for his girlfriend to have for self defense.

State Police Investigator, Timothy Browngardt’s deposition supplies Cathcart’s account of the incident in which “Markee advised Sean wanted to fight him because he thought he was tough.”

The deposition continued to play out the incident as Cathcart recalls, alleging that Leonard first punched Cathcart to which Cathcart responded by drawing his knife and unfolding it. After a second punch, Cathcart recalls holding the knife chest high and pointed at Leonard at which time Cathcart alleges “Sean then jumped at him and attempted to do a Superman punch.”

Cathcart claims the knife went into Leonard’s upper body as he did the jumping punch, according to the deposition.

Responding officer, State Trooper Robert Heath tells in his deposition that he was approached by an individual in the roadway before the patrol car had come to a stop.

The individual identified himself as Markee Cathcart when asked by the responding officer. The deposition then goes on to say, “I asked Cathcart if he stabbed the victim to which he stated he didn’t mean to.”

Statements have indicated that alcohol may have played a role in the incident, including Investigator Browngardt’s indication in his deposition that he could smell alcohol on Cathcart’s breath during the course of the interview as Cathcart admitted to consuming six to seven beers throughout the night.

Cathcart is scheduled to appear in Oswego County Court again on February 22 at 8:45 a.m.