WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A trial date has been set for a former Cape Vincent Correctional Facility inmate who allegedly strangled, beat and kicked a fellow prisoner to death.
A judge, and not a jury, will hear the case of 27 year old Bernard Szurant on November 18 in Jefferson County Court.
On June 18, 2018, Szurant allegedly murdered fellow inmate Mark McCray and assaulted two corrections officers.
According to a grand jury indictment, Szurant caused severe damage to McCray's brain and throat by hitting, kicking and strangling him. McCray died from his injuries on July 9.
Szurant is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree strangulation, tampering with physical evidence, and four counts of second-degree assault.
Two of the second-degree assault charges were in connection with injuries he allegedly caused to two corrections officers.
Both corrections officers, James Alberry and Jason Loftus, required medical treatment. Alberry's left hand was scratched and his face bruised. Loftus was scratched in his left arm and leg and his left knee was bruised.
Szurant is also accused of hiding clothing, gloves, and shoes he thought would be used as evidence against him.
The state's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website showed he was originally in prison for a second-degree attempted assault conviction in Kings County.
He was serving up to three years in prison for that crime, which made headlines in New York City in 2017.
According to the Daily News, Szurant was arrested on assault and other charges for unleashing "a ferocious attack on an interracial couple, dropping the N-word and threatening a lynching before viciously beating the twosome."
The Daily News quoted one of the victims as saying, "It's only a matter of time before he does something to really hurt somebody.
McCray, the inmate who was killed in the Cape Vincent prison, was black, according to the DOCCS website.
The Daily News also said records showed Szurant has an extensive criminal history with 23 arrests, including robbery.
The article said in October 2015, Szurant was arrested for choking his sister in a dispute over money, according to court documents.
According to DOCCS, Szurant was in the Cape Vincent prison between March 30 and July 8. He was then transferred from Cape Vincent, which is a medium-security prison, to Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, which is maximum security.