Niskayuna man who killed wife can’t take back plea

Clifford Burns of Niskayuna, covers his face with court papers after his sentencing in Warren County Court Friday, September 5, 2014. PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBERClifford Burns of Niskayuna, covers his face with court papers after his sentencing in Warren County Court Friday, September 5, 2014. PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER

— A Niskayuna man who admitted in court to stabbing his estranged wife to death in Lake Luzerne won’t get to take back his guilty plea, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court also issued other rulings, including upholding a guilty plea in a 2012 Schenectady murder.

In the Lake Luzerne case, the appeals court rejected arguments from Clifford R. Burns that a meeting with his daughters prior to his plea made him too emotional to knowingly enter into the agreement.

The court found Burns’ arguments “devoid of any merit,” ruling the record reflects the County Court fully advised Burns of his rights and that Burns freely pleaded guilty.

The ruling means that Burns will continue to serve his sentence of 23 years to life based upon his guilty plea to murder.

Prosecutors said Burns, now 48, drove to the Lake Luzerne apartment of 42-year-old Patricia Burns on Christmas Eve 2013 and attacked her as she made dinner. He stabbed her with a knife that was never recovered. Burns was arrested soon afterward following a brief car chase.

Also Thursday:

The Appellate Division upheld the second-degree murder guilty plea of Terell Bethea.

Bethea, now 31, received a sentence of 17 years to life for shooting and killing Charles Bowman Oct. 5, 2012, after a Hamilton Hill argument.

The court found no fault in Bethea’s guilty plea and he waived his right to appeal in other matters.

The court also upheld the 2013 third-degree arson guilty plea offered by Michael Garry, formerly of Glenville.

Garry is serving 4 to 12 years in prison for his role in a series of bombings in March and April 2012.