Inmate says Caledonia body burning suspect confessed in jail

Ozkaynak returning to jail from a past court appearance. Photo: File Photo/Conrad Baker. Ozkaynak returning to jail from a past court appearance.

August 11, 2017 03:31 PM

(GENESEE SUN) – A federal inmate is saying that the man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s roomate confessed in jail.

Aukut Ozkaynak, 37, is accused of felony Murder in the Second Degree and felony Tampering with Physical Evidence. Ozkaynak, who the federal inmate says is known in jail as ‘Ike,’ shook his head as he watched the inmate enter the courtroom.

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“Our first encounter was on Aug. 5, 2016. He came out of his cell and asked if I was watching Forensic Files,” said the federal inmate, whose name the is withholding for his safety. “He started talking about why he was in jail and gave information that a crime had been committed.”

District Attorney Greg McCaffrey asked what the information pertained to.

“He said that he and his girlfriend had taken somebody’s life,” said the inmate.

State Police arrested Ozkaynak and his girlfriend, Mary Neverett, 43, on July 7, 2016 in connection to the discovery of a human body found burning on the side of Lacey Road in Caledonia the night of July 4. They are charged with killing Patrice Miller, 64, and lighting her body on fire. The three are alleged to have been living together in Gates.

On Friday, Ozkaynak appeared with his attorney, Steven Sessler, for several hearings. One hearing was to determine whether the federal inmate acted as an agent of law enforcement when he chose to take notes based on his conversations with Ozkaynak.

Whether or not the inmate acted as an agent of law enforcement will determine whether the statements he allegedly wrote down from Ozkaynak are admissible at trial. The inmate has already testified before the Grand Jury, who later filed the charges that Ozkaynak currently faces in Livingston County Court.

McCaffrey says that the inmate did not act as an agent of law enforcement because, among other things, the inmate said under oath that law enforcement did not direct him to approach Ozkaynak or take any notes from conversations. McCaffrey also said that any agreement to help police with an investigation in exchange for a more lenient sentence would take place as part of a plea deal, not after a defendant is convicted, as was the case with the inmate.

Sessler said that the inmate did act as an agent of law enforcement because, among other things, the inmate said under oath that he was aware that a federal prosecutor might recommend a more lenient sentence for his weapons charge if he could demonstrate that he cooperated with law enforcement. The inmate said under oath that he has on multiple occasions voluntarily given law enforcement information like this on inmates’ statements about crimes committed outside of jail. Sessler also pointed out that as part of a guilty plea, the inmate signed a plea agreement, part of which says ‘The defendant will cooperate with the government by providing complete and truthful information regarding the defendant’s knowledge of any and all criminal activity […]’

The inmate said that he is currently housed at the Monroe County Jail, awaiting sentencing in October.

Judge Dennis Cohen will rule on the hearing and issue a written decision to the attorneys at a later date.

McCaffrey said that he will provide the court with records of three court cases where judges have sided with his opinion. Cohen said that Sessler will have an opportunity to respond.


Conrad Baker/Genesee Sun

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