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Plea deal offered to former Fort Drum soldier charged in infant death


CANTON — The former Fort Drum soldier charged with murdering his ex-fiancee’s infant got a plea deal Monday to avoid a potential life sentence.

Before an evidence-suppression hearing in St. Lawrence County Court, Gary L. McKenzie II, 22, of 154 Hailesboro St., Apt. 26, Gouverneur, was offered a deal by District Attorney Mary E. Rain that would require him to plead guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter, a class B violent felony.

McKenzie is charged with second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony; second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony; reckless assault of a child, a class D felony; endangering the welfare of a child; a class A misdemeanor, and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; a class D felony.

McKenzie is accused of throwing 7-month-old Braylin W. Chambers to the floor, causing an inoperable brain injury including hemorrhaging, at 1:39 a.m. July 16.

If he decides to go to trial and is found guilty of the murder charge, he could face life in prison. According to the plea deal offered in court Monday, if McKenzie pleads guilty to the manslaughter charge, it would satisfy all the charges against him and he would be sentenced to a determinate 21 years in prison.

County Judge Jerome J. Richards has previously denied two motions requesting to have the murder charges against McKenzie dismissed.

Judge Richards wrote that in both denials, there was evidence that was “legally sufficient to support each of the charged crimes,” specifically the murder charge.

McKenzie was given until May 27 to decide if he will accept the plea. If he refuses, the case will go to trial June 16.

McKenzie was returned to St. Lawrence County jail, where he is held on $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 bond.

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