HEADED FOR TRIAL — Pre-trial motions for accused murder suspect Isaac Cantu, right, will begin Oct. 19. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 28. In June, Cantu rejected a plea deal that would have convicted him of first-degree manslaughter. Cantu is joined by defense attorney Michael Vavonese. (Sentinel file photo by Roger Seibert)

Pretrial hearings set for next week in Oneida murder trial

Published Oct 12, 2017 at 4:00pm

ONEIDA — A series of pre-trial hearings have been scheduled in the case of murder suspect Isaac A. Cantu. The hearings will begin Thursday, Oct 19 at 10:45 a.m. in the temporary location of the Madison County Courthouse, 181 Kenwood Ave.

The trial is slated to begin on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Cantu, 18, 227 Lexington Ave., and his co-defendant, Jordan S. Warner, 17, of 222 N. Main St., were originally charged with one count each of second-degree murder, a class A felony; first-degree manslaughter, a class A felony; first-degree assault, a class B felony, and second-degree possession of a weapon, a class C felony.

They are accused of stabbing Francis M. Borasky during a dispute on North Lake Street Sept. 18, 2016.

Cantu rejected a plea deal on June 5 to plead guilty to first degree manslaughter, a class B violent felony. He will now face trial on charges of second-degree murder.

If convicted, he would face a minimum of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life.

Warner pleaded guilty on April 4 to second-degree assault as part of a plea deal, which includes an agreement to testify against Cantu. Madison County Judge Dennis K. McDermott, who will preside over the trial, said Warner will receive a sentence of four years in state prison followed by three years of post-release supervision. McDermott has not set a sentencing date for Warner.

Trial preparations continue

Pre-trial preparations include a number of hearings that will determine what evidence will be used during the trial. These include a Sandoval hearing, which establishes whether any of a defendant’s prior criminal convictions may be bright before a jury during trial, and a Ventimiglia hearing, which determines what uncharged crimes, if any, may be brought before the jury.

“All filings in this case are under seal, so I cannot comment as far as specifics,” Madison County Chief Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Mascari, who will serve as lead prosecutor on the case, said. “Our office will be fully ready to proceed at the Novemebr trial date and will seek justice for Francis Borasky,” Mascari said.

The DA’s office continues to be in contact with Cantu’s defense attorney, Michael Vavonese.

“We are always in contact with defense counsel given our open file policy and our view that we don’t play ‘hide the ball’ with defendants,” Mascari said.

Borasky, 35, was stabbed several times during the argument, police said. He died a short time later at Oneida Healthcare Center. He was a father of two who worked as a maintenance worker at Syracuse University and had coached Pop Warner football and Little League.

“He was a good man,” Oneida Public Safety Commissioner Mike West previously told the Sentinel. “I had coached youth sports with him. He was also a good father.”

Police found nearly a dozen people supporting both sides outside Borasky’s Stoddard Street residence when they responded. Both suspects fled when police arrived at the scene and turned themselves in on Monday, Sept. 19 after Oneida police had launched a manhunt for them. Warner admitted to being in a fight with Borasky, and the investigation showed he did not have a weapon.

“Any act of violence diminishes a community,” Mascari said. “While I care deeply about the City of Oneida and Madison County, my focus has to be on the family of Francis Borasky. They are my primary concern at this point.”