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Massena man sentenced to 15 years to life

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CANTON — A Massena man was sentenced Monday to 15 years to life in prison for his conviction of second-degree attempted robbery in St. Lawrence County Court before Judge Jerome J. Richards.

Richard L. Manford, 43, of 20 Parker Ave., Apt. 2B, was indicted in July on two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree assault. He admitted to stealing $190 from and beating Randy Stewart on Water Street, Massena.

Massena Village Police had charged Manford with second-degree assault, first-degree robbery, petit larceny and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Manford, the victim of a stabbing in December 2010, reportedly punched Mr. Stewart several times in the head and face, leaving him with a fractured orbital bone and several other injuries to his face. Prosecutors say the attack appears to have been related to the victim’s sexual orientation.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney James L. Monroe said last summer the victim’s sexual orientation appeared to prompt the attack. “He was at a party and told people he hated gay people. If this case would have gone to the grand jury, we would have tried to indict it as a hate crime,” Mr. Monroe said at that time.

Police said their investigation revealed Manford and Mr. Stewart had both been at a party hosted by Colin D. McKenna at his apartment on Water Street. The two men left at the same time.

Mr. McKenna, in a statement he provided to police, said he had a few friends at his apartment at 151 Water St. drinking beer that night.

“Randy is gay, and Rick was pacing around the table. It seemed like Rick didn’t like him,”Mr. McKenna said in his statement.

“Randy stated he had enough and said he was going home. Rick then stated he was going to leave with him. They both left at the same time, and Rick seemed anxious to get Randy home,”Mr. McKenna told police.

Police said they received a complaint of the fight at 10:10 p.m. May 7 and when they responded to Water Street they found Mr. Stewart of East Orvis Street lying in a grassy area covered with blood and with what they described as obvious facial and head injuries.

He was taken to Massena Memorial Hospital for initial evaluation and then was transported to the Albany Medical Center for further treatment.

Mr. Stewart, 48, told police the two men were walking on Water Street when Manford suddenly attacked him.

“I was leaving a friend’s house on Water Street when a male with a pony tail, lots of tattoos and approximately six-feet tall said he would walk with me. I did not know this male before this night. We started walking up Water Street when he pushed me down on the side of the street and started punching me in the face,” he recalled in a statement he provided police.

Court documents indicate Mr. Stewart told police Manford then took his wallet, which contained $179, cell phone and cigarettes. Mr. Stewart said Manford then threw his phone back on the ground, punched him a couple of more times and left the area.

Manford, who was released from prison in late 2010 received serious injuries on Dec. 2, 2010 when he was stabbed numerous times following a party at 749 state Route 11C, Brasher Falls. That attack followed a long night of partying at that residence.

Manford has served three separate state prison sentences since March 1989.

He was sentenced to two to four years in state prison on March 31, 1989 for a second-degree attempted assault conviction in Onondaga County.

Manford was then sentenced to a five to 10 year term for a second-degree burglary conviction on March 11, 1993 in Onondaga County.

He then served a five-year bid for a second-degree attempted burglary conviction from July 10, 2000 in Oswego County.

His release on parole from those sentences has reportedly been revoked numerous times over the last decade. His was last released from the Elmira Correctional Facility on July 2, 2010 after serving the maximum time of his previous felony conviction.

In other court action:

Andrew M. Main, 28, of 11 Grove St., Ogdensburg, was sentenced to six years in prison for his conviction of second-degree rape.

Mr. Main is accused of having sex Jan. 4 with a minor and was sentenced as a second felony offender.

Benjamin Armstrong, 24, of Salamanca, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Mr. Armstrong told Judge Richards he possessed about 4 pounds of marijuana June 30 in the town of Pitcairn. He is expected to be sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation.

Dennis M. Farrell, 44, of 416 Spring St., Ogdensburg, was sentenced to 120 days in jail and fined $5,520 for his February 2011 conviction of driving while intoxicated. Judge Richards said he will allow Mr. Farrell to serve the jail time around his work schedule.

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