CORTLAND - A city man was indicted on charges of felony first-degree manslaughter Friday morning in Cortland County Court for the stabbing death of another city man in August on Main Street.
The grand jury also accused Andrew J. Pilcher, 32, of felony second-degree manslaughter, as well as tampering with physical evidence, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.
City police arrested Pilcher, of 6 Main St., for fatally stabbing 28-year-old Damian S. Grant, of 10 Woodruff St., on Aug. 29, outside Pilcher’s upper-floor apartment.
Pilcher possessed a knife he intended to stab Grant with and hid it from authorities, according to the indictment.
Pilcher told police he defended himself during a fight with Grant, according to court documents. He also previously stated he used a household key to stab Grant.
But city police Sgt. Daniel Johnson wrote in a felony complaint that Pilcher used a folding-style knife to "stab the torso of Damian S. Grant, one time, resulting in death.”
Grant sustained about a 2 ½ centimeter (almost one inch), upward laceration to his chest that was “... smooth on both sides and was in an elongated diamond shape,” according to an account by an emergency medical technician that responded to the scene and was included with the court documents.
The incident began with an argument over a cigarette, the victim’s girlfriend told police. According to her statement included in court documents, neither Pilcher or Grant were acting aggressively, when suddenly Grant stumbled towards her with a stab wound in his chest.
Pilcher told police in a statement Grant was acting “excessively aggressive" toward him.
"He swung at me, and hit me on the head," Pilcher said.
Just two months before he was fatally stabbed, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department arrested Grant for pulling out a knife and chasing another man out of a residence in front of a 12-year-old, according to a press release from the Cortland County Sheriff's Office that was distributed to local media following his arrest. Grant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, menacing, and harassment.
Pilcher has no criminal record in local courts.
Grant’s girlfriend, Tami Nickerson, of McGraw, told the Cortland Voice this fall the charges against Grant resulted from “...a family thing that was blown way out of proportion.” Nickerson described Grant, who worked in landscaping, as a loving father and stepfather who was working to build a better life for himself after an addiction to drugs.
Nickerson reflected on the absurdity of the stabbing in her statement to police. "This whole thing is crazy. This should not have happened," she said. "It was over a stupid cigarette… It doesn't make sense."
Pilcher was still held Friday night in the Cortland County Jail on $20,000 cash bail or $40,000 bond for manslaughter and $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond for the tampering charge. Pilcher’s next court date in Cortland County Court was not yet scheduled.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Pilcher sustained a stab wound. Grant was the only person to sustain a stab wound. We apologize for the error.