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Fort Drum man pleads not guilty to murder of infant

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CANTON — The Fort Drum man facing multiple charges, including murder, in the death of his girlfriend’s infant son pleaded not guilty on all counts Monday morning in St. Lawrence County Court.

Gary L. McKenzie II, 22, of 154 Hailesboro St., Apt. 26, Gouverneur, was arrested in July and accused of throwing 7-month-old Braylin W. Chambers to the floor, causing an inoperable brain injury and hemorrhaging that resulted in the child’s death.

A St. Lawrence County grand jury is charging him with second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony; second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony; reckless assault of a child, a class D felony; and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

St. Lawrence County Public Defender Stephen D. Button is representing McKenzie and told County Judge Jerome J. Richards that his client had no criminal history and, if he is released from St. Lawrence County jail, where he was being held on $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond, he would return to his Fort Drum barracks with the promise that he would make every court appearance.

An Army private first class, McKenzie is a petroleum supply specialist in A Company of the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, according to Fort Drum’s public affairs office.

Judge Richards sent McKenzie back to jail on increased bail of $100,000 cash and $250,000 bond pending future court proceedings.

During the July 22 preliminary hearing in Gouverneur Town Court, Mr. Button said there was not enough evidence against McKenzie to prove him guilty of second-degree murder because of an elevated burden of depraved indifference that would have to be proved by District Attorney Nicole M. Duve.

According to court documents, at 1:39 a.m. on July 16, McKenzie checked on the infant. He said he picked up the child to burp him and when the child got sick he became scared, stepped backward and tripped over a diaper bag, resulting in his throwing the child.

The infant was transported with his mother and E.J. Noble Hospital staff to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, where he was admitted to the pediatric critical care unit and placed on life support. He was pronounced dead at 5:20 p.m. that same day.

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