October 23, 2021

Defendant in deadly stabbing: ‘We just got into it’

A man charged with murder in a fatal stabbing Monday at a Polkville motel said it was an accident, according to police documents.

John G.W. Goss, 48, of Cortland, was charged with second-degree murder and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, felonies, in the death of Attius Clakeley Jr., 31, of Cortland.

Goss was arraigned Tuesday in Cortland City Court and sent to the Cortland County Jail without bail pending an appearance March 23 in Cortlandville Town Court, according to the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office.

Goss is accused of stabbing Clakeley at 7:20 a.m. Monday at the Cortland Motel at 3832 Route 11, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We just got into it, man,” Goss told sheriff’s Investigator Chad Burhans, according to court documents. “It wasn’t over drugs or that [expletive], man. It’s over somebody who had differences. I don’t think that it would ever happen again. … I just acted out.”

Clakeley had been living between the Cortland Motel and the home of Elizabeth Coggins, his stepmother, after getting out of jail, Coggins told police. He had been charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, said Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti, and was released from jail Feb. 20.

Witness Robert W. Tumminia, 60, who lives in Room 22 at the Cortland Motel, told police he heard a man from Room 23 enter Room 21 about 7:20 a.m. Monday. Soon after, Tumminia heard the two men argue, then fight with banging against the wall.

He then called Ying Jiang, the coowner of the motel, to report the fighting, which had then moved to outside of his room, Jiang’s deposition said.

Jiang said she would take care of it and and came out to the motel lobby. She met her mother in the lobby. Her mother was woken by someone banging on her door, but instead of answering her door, Jiang’s mother came to the lobby to see who it was.

“When we looked outside, we saw a man lying on the sidewalk outside of Room 4,” Jiang told police. The man was Clakely. “The man had no shirt on and a lot of blood on his chest. I called the Sheriff’s Department to report the man on the ground.”

Goss was seen walking away from the area of Room 4 when sheriff’s officers arrived around 7:30 a.m, reported Officer Michael Hall.

Hall said that Goss was covered in blood on his clothing and hands and the man, who would later be identified as Clakeley, was lying on his back in front of Room 4.

Goss then approached Hall’s vehicle.

“We were fighting over the knife,” Goss said to Hall, according to Hall’s deposition.

Goss also said he did not know what was going on but kept repeating, “You know when someone questions your loyalty?”

Another officer checked on Clakeley, who had no pulse. Hall saw a stab wound in Clakeley’s left breast.

Hall also found blood all over Room 21 and what looked like the scene of a fight as chairs were knocked over, the beds were moved and other items were thrown, Hall said in his deposition.

When speaking with Officer Jeffrey Lawton, Goss said the blood on his clothes came from a room full of drugs, according to Lawton’s oral admissions form.

“There are a lot of drugs in the room but I don’t know what room,” Goss said. “It was the other guy’s room and his drugs. We had a disagreement and he has all the drugs and there was this knife.”

Goss continued in saying that Clakeley, whose name Goss said he didn’t know, kept saying he was going to hurt people Goss knew and then pulled a knife on Goss.

“So I pushed him away from me and he got stabbed,” Goss said.

Goss also said he was stabbed, states an oral admission form.

Goss said that Clakeley ran off after being stabbed.

“I wasn’t gonna intentionally do that,” Goss told Burhans. “It got a little mixed up, man. If I knew something like that was gonna happen, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Clakeley and Goss were both taken to Cortland Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office.

Goss was later transferred to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

Assisting at the scene were state police, the Cortlandville Fire Department and TLC Emergency Medical Services ambulance crews.