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Markeith Buchanan Guilty of Manslaughter 1st

District Attorney

Markeith Buchanan, age 25, of Schenectady, New York was convicted of Manslaughter in the First Degree, a class B violent felony, and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, class C violent felonies, on February 27, 2024, after a jury trial.  He was acquitted of the top charge, Murder in the Second Degree, a class AI felony. 

On July 1, 2022, Buchanan went to a bar located at 1490 State Street called Vibez Bar and Lounge with his cousin, Tasheem Haggray, and two female friends, identified only as “Faith” and “Precious.”  They were celebrating Haggray’s release from prison, and had been taking shots of alcohol and smoking marijuana for several hours.  They arrived at Vibez around 12:45am and attempted to gain entry into the bar, however, Buchanan was denied for not having his identification.  The victim, John Bass, age 24 at the time of his death, was in front of the bar and began a verbal altercation with Buchanan about issues the two have had going back for several years.  Bass and Buchanan have known each other since they were in middle school together.  The verbal altercation turned physical when Bass punched the defendant twice, which knocked Buchanan down, and then Bass proceeded to stomp, kick, and repeatedly punch Buchanan in the head.  

When Buchanan was able to get up, he went to his car, retrieved a gun and walked back part way to the bar.  He and Bass again engaged in a verbal altercation, this time from across the parking lot.  Bass began to approach Buchanan but when he was approximately 3-to-6 feet away Bass started to turn around.  It was at that moment that Buchanan fired a single bullet that hit Bass in the right arm, traveled through his torso, lacerating his aorta artery and other organs, and then lodged in his left arm.  Bass was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.  The incident was captured on bar surveillance camera, County cameras, and partially by a cell phone video taken from someone present at the scene. 

Buchanan then fled the scene in a car registered to himself.  He spent the next two months trying to evade police, spending nights in hotels in other counties.  He also changed his phone number and stopped using social media.  At trial he testified that he threw the gun used in the Hudson River.  He was ultimately caught and arrested in Schenectady on September 20, 2022 with help from the County cameras and the US Marshals.

At trial, Buchanan testified that he was both justified in his actions and also that he did not intend to shoot or kill Bass.  In returning a verdict of not guilty on the Murder charge but guilty on the Manslaughter in the First Degree charge, the jury ultimately found that Buchanan was not justified in his actions and that he only intended to cause serious physical injury to Bass, but not death.  Due to his status as a second felony offender, Buchanan faces between eight and twenty five years in prison for his conviction of Manslaughter in the First Degree, and between five and fifteen years in prison for each of the Weapons charge, one of which may be able to run consecutively to the Manslaughter sentence.  This will be decided on April 30, 2024 when the case is scheduled for sentencing.

District Attorney Robert M. Carney stated:  “This case was well tried by both defense attorney Kurt Haas and Assistant District Attorneys Nick McDonald and James Faucher.  I think this jury reached a just and reasonable verdict.  They concluded that Mr. Buchanan had no legal right to retrieve his illegal gun from his car after Mr. Bass had beaten him in a fist fight and use it to kill him.  But they also concluded that shooting Mr. Bass one time was indicative of an intent to cause him serious physical injury rather than an attempt to kill, even though that one shot proved fatal.  Once again, senseless gun violence has ended one life and changed another forever, involving two people who earlier in life had been friends.”

The trial was presided over by the Honorable Matthew Sypniewski. The case was prosecuted by ADA Nicolaus McDonald and ADA James Faucher with a great deal of assistance from DA Investigator Anthony Brown.  Attorney Kurt Haas represented the defendant.