COOPERSTOWN – The Oneonta man who pleaded guilty to killing his boyfriend last year was sentenced to prison time Friday morning in Otsego County Court.
Joshua Underwood, 25, has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison. He previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in exchange for the 20-year prison sentence.
Officials say around 3:30 a.m. Jan. 1, 2017, Underwood called 911 and reported that he had killed his boyfriend, 52-year-old Mark Morrison of Oneonta. Police found Morrison dead in his Main Street apartment and they say he was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Police say Underwood tried to conceal the crime by stuffing the apartment doorway with newspapers and setting them on fire.
Underwood was originally scheduled to be sentenced in mid-December, but at that time he instead tried to withdraw his guilty plea for first-degree manslaughter, claiming he was coerced by the public defender’s assistant assigned to the case.
In court on Friday, when Underwood was asked if he had anything to say before he was to be sentenced, he said, "What happened was horrible and I regret it everyday."
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl talked after Friday's sentencing about his decison to offer Underwood a plea deal, "The defense had him evaluated, and there was some evidence of, not a mental disease or defect, but evidence of the fact that he may have acted up under extreme emotional distress at the time that it happened, which I felt was sufficient to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter. Which, if the jury had found that he acted under extreme emotional distress the jury would have been required to return a verdict of manslaughter instead of murder, so I felt that there was enough there to convince a jury to do that, so I made that offer instead of putting everybody through a trial."