OSWEGO, NY – The Phoenix man responsible for fatally stabbing Fulton man, Sean D. Leonard, 23 in October was sentenced today (June 28) to serve three to nine years in prison.
Markee L. Cathcart, 20 of Phoenix had previously submitted a guilty plea to the charge of manslaughter in the second degree as part of a plea deal proposing a sentence certain.
The charge imposed is result of one fatal stab wound to the chest of the victim after an argument outside a party at a residence in Hannibal escalated into a physical altercation where Cathcart then opened a folding knife he had shown off to friends earlier in the night on October 24, 2015.
Further investigation showed that Leonard was unarmed during the altercation which negated the intended argument of self defense as Cathcart had immediately questioned to first responding authorities.
Instead, as promised by the plea agreement, Cathcart was sentenced by Oswego County Court Judge Donald Todd to a sentence certain of three years minimum to nine years maximum in state prison and more than $8,000 in restitution.
Due to the nature of the agreement, Cathcart is able to serve no less than three years and no more than nine years without the opportunity for an appeal at any point.
At the end of three years incarceration, Cathcart is able to appear before the parole board to consider his release.
Judge Todd made clear that the plea agreement was based upon recommendation by the People, as represented at sentencing by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bell despite not being supported entirely by the victim’s family.
“Nine years is not enough,” David Leonard, the victim’s father, said to the courtroom. “Not even close. Sean is dead forever.”
Leonard, 78 explained that as Sean was an only child to himself and his wife, Gail Leonard, 63, there was no chance of the two having another child or ever having any grandchildren.
“There is no amount of prison time that is going to be satisfactory in this case,” Bell said.
“Sean was a young man that had his whole life ahead of him that was tragically cut short by the defendant’s actions,” he said.
He added that the most troublesome part is that the death was a “senseless” one, as it is believed to have been the result of a fight over “who was driving, or the value of a car at the party.”
Cathcart then addressed the court and the victim’s family that filled nearly half of the court room extending his apologies and asking to be understood, “I never meant to hurt Sean.”
“I have to wake up every day of my life knowing I am the reason Sean is dead,” he said.
He added that, “I am not proud” and “this is by no means easy for me,” although recognizing his pain is nowhere comparable to theirs.
Judge Todd spoke of Cathcart’s lengthy criminal record and noted that the fact that his grandmother really loved him was the only favorable thing he could find for Cathcart.
He was hopeful that a small token of closure would be available knowing that the sentence imposed was a sentence certain and with no appeal this was the final step in the sentencing although recognizing it was not sufficient for the Leonard family.
“You cost these fine folks their only child, the opportunity to ever hold and caress a grandchild,” he told Cathcart. “There is nothing this system can do to bring justice.”