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Victim’s sister to Alex Bay murderer: ‘We want to know why’


Terri S. Salisbury says the man who killed her sister last May remains as selfish as he was on the night he stabbed Mary I. Burkman to death.

That’s because Mikel R. Odle, 21, formerly of Alexandria Bay, tried Friday to withdraw from a plea agreement for a 37-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty April 4 to the murder of Ms. Burkman, 51, the mother of the woman with whom Odle had a child.

In a Jefferson County courtroom Friday, Odle said the district attorney’s office “threatened and cornered” him to take the sentence of 37 years to life. In his court motions, Odle claimed the district attorney threatened to send him to prison for 52 years if he did not agree.

But District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert adamantly denied his claim, and Judge Kim H. Martusewicz quickly denied Odle’s motion.

“It was self-serving,” Mrs. Salisbury said afterward. “He was just thinking of himself, not thinking how his actions have impacted everyone else.”

Judge Martusewicz went on to sentence Odle to the agreed-upon 37-year sentence. Odle was immediately escorted out of the courtroom to an awaiting jail van that took him to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building.

Mrs. Salisbury and other members of the victim’s family were surprised to hear immediately before Friday’s sentencing that Odle wanted to withdraw consent to the sentencing agreement.

Before the proceedings began, Odle’s mother, Stacie M. McMurray, was seen in the courtroom arguing with Odle’s lawyer, Chief Assistant Public Defender Laurel A. McCarthy, about the sentencing agreement. She talked to others in her family while they waited for the hearing.

“You’re blaming me,” Ms. McCarthy said, pointing at the mother.

Before the actual sentencing, both Mrs. Salisbury and Ms. Burkman’s daughter, Amber S. Englebert, the mother of Odle’s nearly 2-year-old daughter, Adalyn Elaina, gave statements about how their loved one’s death changed their lives forever.

The district attorney spoke for Ms. Englebert, who was too upset to speak, telling the judge she was stabbed 13 times during the attack that killed her mother, underwent four surgeries and will never have the full use of her hand because of the injuries.

Ms. Englebert suffered such severe injuries that she was unable to attend her mother’s funeral, Mrs. Intschert said.

Mrs. Salisbury told the judge she hoped someday to forgive Odle, but that he took away her sister. Ms. Burkman “had a wonderful life” that included volunteering at her church, Mrs. Salisbury said.

“We want to know why,” she said to the convicted murderer.

During the two statements, the shackled Odle looked straight ahead and did not acknowledge the women. He showed no emotion.

Outside the courtroom, Odle’s mother called the murder “a terrible tragedy for everybody.”

“We’re also victims,” she said, adding that her “heart goes out to” Ms. Englebert, the granddaughter and the victim’s entire family.

“It ruined everyone’s life. I miss my granddaughter. I haven’t seen her in a year,” she said as tears ran down her cheeks and her voice cracked.

In April, Odle admitted to fatally stabbing Ms. Burkman, 51, on May 21, 2011, in her home at 190 S. Real St., Cape Vincent, and to stabbing Ms. Englebert several times. On a count of reckless endangerment, he admitted to placing his then-11-month-old daughter at risk when he drove at high speeds with the child not secured in a restraining device while attempting to get away from police.

The murder occurred at about 11:50 p.m. that Saturday, which is when Ms. Englebert made a 911 call. Ms. Burkman was stabbed in the head, neck and body.

Police chased Odle, who was driving about 90 mph on Route 12E in the town of Lyme, officers said. He lost control of the vehicle on a curve in Chaumont, causing it to overturn.

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