Teen pleads guilty to manslaughter to end Oneida murder trial

Published Dec 9, 2017 at 4:00pm

ONEIDA — Oneida resident Isaac Cantu pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter late Thursday evening to conclude his trial for allegedly murdering Francis M. Borasky, 35, during an argument on Sept. 18, 2016. Cantu, 18, faces 15 years in prison, five years of post-release supervision and $1,500 in restitution to Borasky’s family for funeral expenses. He will not be able to appeal his conviction.

Cantu, of 227 Lexington Ave., Oneida and his co-defendant, Jordan S. Warner, 17, of 222 N. Main St., Oneida 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.

Borasky was stabbed three times during an argument with the suspects, police said. He died a short time later at Oneida Healthcare Center from his wounds. The incident happened between 8 and 8:30 that evening.

The jury had begun deliberations around 1 on Thursday afternoon and had requested four times to have testimony read back to them. They twice asked to have testimony of an eyewitness who saw the fight firsthand, and also requested the hear the legal definition of “intent” and the testimony of a forensic expert regarding the blood-stained clothes police recovered during the investigation. Madison County Judge Dennis K. McDermott dismissed the jury at 5:30 p.m., and Cantu entered his plea at around 7 p.m.

Cantu rejected a plea deal on June 5 to plead guilty to first degree manslaughter, a class B violent felony.

Warner pleaded guilty on April 4 to second-degree assault as part of a plea deal, which included an agreement to testify against Cantu.

He 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.

Closing arguments

During closing arguments Madison County Chief Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Mascari tried to counter defense attorney Michael Vavonese’s arguments by attempting to prove Cantu intentionally killed Borasky and by trying to discredit witnesses Vavonese had called during the trial.

Mascari said the three knife wounds, two by Borasky’s heart and one by his liver, proved Cantu knew he was aiming the knife to kill Borasky. He said Warner could not have had a knife in his possession because of the timing of the incident, and that Warner was aiming his punches at Borasky’s face. Cantu struck Borasky in the chest; neighbors who witnessed the fight said Cantu had jumped into the fight after Warner and Borasky began exchanging punches.

Cantu’s intent, Mascari said, was verified by him standing over a collapsed Borasky and cursing him after the apparent stabbing.

“Many things could have prevented Francis Borasky’s murder,” Mascari said as he approached Cantu and pointed his finger in Cantu’s face. “He could have left at a different time to get glue for his son’s school project, or Warner and Cantu could have become involved in the fight later on. But the one thing that could have prevented the fight didn’t happen, and that was Isaac Cantu choosing to murder Francis Borasky.”

A father remembered

Oneida city 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. The teens turned themselves in on Monday, Sept. 19 after 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.

“The police arrived a minute after the call came in, but it was too late,” Oneida Public Safety Commissioner Mike West said.

“At first we thought Borasky had passed out, but then we saw he was stabbed. He unfortunately died later at the hospital because of his wounds. We examined the case and we have found that we could not have stopped what happened,” West said.

“He was a good man. I had coached youth sports with him. He was also a good father,” West added.

Borasky was a father of two who was a maintenance worker at Syracuse University and had coached Pop Warner football and Little League.

“Francis was the kind of man who would get as much overtime as he could to provide for his family, who coached youth sports and took care of his sons,” Mascari said during closing arguments.

It was the second murder in Oneida over a 14-month period. On Aug. 3, 2015, Tiffany Meeks, a mother of two, was murdered by Canastota resident Kevin Farley for drug money. McDermott sentenced Farley to 24-years-to-life in June 2016.