December 2, 2021

Man charged with murder in Cortland stabbing

A former McGraw resident was charged Wednesday with murder after his daughter’s former boyfriend was stabbed to death Tuesday night, Cortland police said.

Harold John Young, 56, commonly known as John Young, was arraigned in Cortland City Court on charges of second-degree murder and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, felonies.

Young pleaded not guilty. He was being held without bail at the Cortland County Jail.

Young, who moved after 2018 to McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is accused of stabbing David O. Sears-Lopez, 28, of 18 Evergreen St., Cortland, at 11:09 p.m. Tuesday in the street in front of 19 Maple Ave., Cortland, said Lt. Michael Strangeway. Young and Sears-Lopez were arguing before the stabbing.

The scene, Maple Avenue, is a residential street on the city’s north side, much of it student housing, about a half-block west of North Main Street.

Sears-Lopez had ended a romantic relationship with Young’s adult daughter and Young warned him to stay away from the woman, Strangeway said. Young told Sears-Lopez to quit his job at the company where he worked with Young’s daughter, as well, Strangeway said.

Sears-Lopez, also known as David Lopez, called Young a racial slur during the argument and punched him twice in the face, police said. Young, who is white, responded by stabbing Sears in the left chest with a knife, police said.

Sears-Lopez’s brother took Sears-Lopez to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, Strangeway said. Sears-Lopez was airlifted to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, where he died during an emergency surgery.

Police arrested Young after witnesses identified him as the man who stabbed Sears-Lopez, Strangeway said. Police declined to answer questions regarding the knife used in the stabbing citing the ongoing investigation.

Young is scheduled to reappear at 9 a.m. Monday in Cortland City Court. Police said that anyone with further information, especially anyone who may have taken any video around the scene at the time of the stabbing, can call Strangeway at 607-758-8307 or email

At the time of arrest, Young was wanted by the Cortland Police Department on a 2018 warrant on charges of criminally possessing the precursors to manufacture methamphetamine, Strangeway said.

In 2014, Young was sentenced April 15 to six months in the Cortland County Jail and five years of probation after he pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine, a felony.