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Judge Todd to Defendant: Teen’s Confession Admissable

OSWEGO, NY – A confession allegedly made to state police by one of the teenagers accused of robbing and killing a Granby man can be used as evidence in a jury trial.

Oswego County Court Judge Donald Todd takes notes as defense attorney Joseph Rodak questions a witness.
Oswego County Court Judge Donald Todd takes notes as defense attorney Joseph Rodak questions a witness.

The decision sent to defense attorney Joseph Rodak on July 25 by Oswego County Court Judge Donald Todd denied Rodak’s request for suppression of statements made by Zachary Scott to New York State Police on March 3, the day the 19-year-old was arrested.

Scott stands charged on two counts of murder in the second degree, and a total of four counts of burglary and robbery in the first degree for his alleged participation in crimes committed Feb. 3, the night Anthony Miller was killed in his home.

On July 21 Todd conducted a Huntley hearing to determine the admissibility at trial of statements attributed to Scott.

During the hearing New York State Police Investigators Jonathan Pelton and William Casey testified that they went to Scott’s home, spoke with him there and then transported him to the Fulton barracks where they collected his statement about his involvement with Michael Celi, 17, and Glenwood Carr Jr., 17, the other teens accused in the case.

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Defense attorney Joseph Rodak and Zachary Scott.

In his decision, Todd said, “The court finds the defendant made his statements voluntarily and they were obtained in a manner that did not violate his state or federal constitutional rights, and as a result, the defendant’s motion to suppress the statements from use at trial … is hereby denied.”

In his factual analysis of the testimony and evidence presented during the Huntley hearing, Todd said, “The defendant never requested an attorney, nor did he state that he no longer wished to speak to the investigators.”

The judge noted that, although Scott was not re-read his Miranda rights once he and the investigators reached the barracks, there is no requirement under the law that mandates them to do so.

Acknowledging the facts presented during the investigators’ testimony, Todd’s decision states, “The defendant was neither asked when he last slept, nor if he had consumed any drugs or alcohol prior to the interview; however, the defendant was awake and dressed when the investigators arrived at his home, and he appeared to understand the questions posed to him and responded appropriately.”

While the investigators did not know Scott’s IQ, and according to Todd “did nothing to ascertain that information, the judge added that there was no evidence offered by Rodak during the Huntley hearing that Scott “suffers from any mental or developmental disability which would impair his comprehension of his constitutional rights.”

With respect to Scott’s arrest and the manner which he received the Miranda warning from investigators, Todd said the court finds “the conversation with the defendant on the front porch of his residence was non-custodial. The discussion was limited and investigatory, rather than accusatory in nature.”

Once Scott and the investigators were in the unmarked police car, officers testified that he was read his Miranda rights, and chose to keep talking with them in the car and back at the Fulton barracks.

“The court further finds that (Scott) willingly accompanied the investigators to the barracks and he was timely and adequately apprised of his Miranda rights in the investigators’ vehicle, and intelligently waived those rights,” Todd said.

Scott rejected a plea offer by the district attorney’s office to one count of first degree burglary, a class B violent felony, conditioned upon a sentence of 18 years, along with 5 years parole in full satisfaction of the charges against him.

According to New York State Penal Law, the sentencing range on a first degree burglary charge is a minimum of no less than 5 years determinate and no more than 25 years maximum.

The sentence for a second degree murder conviction is a minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison, and the maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

Scott’s trial date has not yet been set.

Meanwhile, Celi was in court July 28 for a Huntley/Dunaway hearing to determine whether statements he made to police will be suppressed, and whether his Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

That case will be back in court Aug. 8.

Judge Donald Todd at the bench while defendant Glenwood Carr Jr. stands at the podium with his attorney Timothy Kirwan.
Judge Donald Todd at the bench while defendant Glenwood Carr Jr. stands at the podium with his attorney Timothy Kirwan.

Carr Jr. was also in court July 28 to reschedule his Huntley hearing which had been adjourned because one of the police investigators was off-duty due to an injury.

During that appearance Todd compelled Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bell to subpoena the investigator “and get this case back on track,” Todd said.

That hearing is scheduled to begin Aug. 11.