QUEENSBURY -- The Niskayuna man who allegedly stabbed his wife to death in Lake Luzerne on Christmas Eve was indicted on murder and assault charges on Friday.
A Warren County grand jury filed the five-count against Clifford R. Burns on Friday afternoon.
He faces felony charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of unlawful fleeing of a police officer.
Arraignment was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday before Warren County Judge John Hall.
The murder and manslaughter counts accuse him of killing his estranged wife, Patricia Burns, 42, in her Lake Avenue home the night of Dec. 24.
The murder charge accuses him of intentionally killing her.
The first-degree assault count accuses him of causing serious injuries to his stepdaughter, 22-year-old Megan Jenkins, in the apartment that same night.
Police said both Patricia Burns and Jenkins were stabbed numerous times. Megan Jenkins required surgery for her wounds but has been released from the hospital.
“Her injuries came when she inserted herself to try to help her mother,” sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale said of Jenkins. “He stabbed her several times but she escaped and ran out to get help.”
The murder weapon, a hunting knife that Clifford Burns brought with him to the home, has not been recovered, and police believe he threw it from his car as he fled the home, authorities said.
Police have not been able to locate it during searches of the roads he was believed to have traveled.
Stockdale said there were other knives in his vehicle, but none were believed to be the murder weapon.
The Burnses’ youngest child, 14-year-old Autumn Burns, suffered a cut to one of her fingers during the attack, but was unable to say how it occurred. So no charges were filed in connection with that injury.
Authorities said they had not determined a motive for the attack, but the couple had been involved in a divorce court case, child custody and child support disputes in the months before the attack. Clifford Burns had been notified in the preceding days that his wife had complained about child support not being paid, police said.
He has a lengthy history of domestic violence toward his wife and at least one other woman.
Second-degree murder is punishable by up to 25-years-to-life in state prison while first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault are punishable by up to 25 years.
Sentence for the assault charge could be run consecutively to the murder charge because they arose from attacks on separate people, so Clifford Burns, 46, could face up to 50-years-to-life in state prison if found guilty.
His lawyer, Warren County Assistant Public Marcy Flores, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to the murder count Wednesday in Lake Luzerne Town Court. The indictment results in the case being moved to Warren County Court.
Clifford Burns is being held in Warren County Jail without bail pending arraignment.