A Cortland man who last month pleaded guilty to assault for a stabbing might trade his likely 6.5 year sentence for a chance at trial — where he could face up to 25 years behind bars.
In July, Bryan Lee, 35, of 11 Halbert St., Cortland, was arrested after law enforcement responded to a 3:30 a.m. report of an assault. A 29-year-old man was found at the scene with multiple stab wounds.
For his alleged crime, Lee pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted assault, a class C felony, in February when the Cayuga County District Attorney's office lowered its plea offer from eight to 6.5 years. His plea satisfied additional charges of second-degree attempted murder, a class B felony; second-degree assault, a class D felony; fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class A misdemeanor.
During his plea, Lee at first said he was only pleading guilty "out of respect for this court." He ultimately pleaded guilty and confirmed that he repetitively stabbed the victim with either a knife of scissors.
"I was coerced into a plea by my attorney," Lee said in Cayuga County Criminal Court Tuesday. He added that his attorney, Rome Canzano, "pulled until I emotionally broke down."
Senior Assistant District Attorney Brittany Grome Antonacci said she didn't like that Lee's statement about being coerced into a plea appeared to be planned. She said Lee had conversations in jail with his sister in which he talked about how he planned to say his plea was coerced after entering it.