JOHNSTOWN -A Montgomery County man accused of assaulting and robbing a Johnstown man before he was stabbed to death two years ago in Gloversville pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the felony charges.
Derrick R. Paul, 29, of 23 E. Main St., St. Johnsville, pleaded "not guilty on all counts" in Fulton County Court through his assigned lawyer, attorney Jeremiah Wood of Gloversville.
Paul is accused of assaulting and robbing 42-year-old Brian Morrison the night of July 6, 2010, before Morrison was found stabbed in the neck on Bleecker Street by an ambulance crew. Morrison died en route to Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville.
Derrick Paul, center, is escorted by Fulton County correctional officers Doug Gifford, left, and Bert Simonds outside the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown before Paul’s arraignment Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Paul faces no charges related to the stabbing, but Gloversville police Capt. Anthony Clay said recently the investigation continues and Paul "can't be completely ruled out" as a suspect in the stabbing of Morrison. The knife used to stab Morrison has not been found by police.
Paul entered his plea during his arraignment at the County Courthouse before Judge Polly A. Hoye. He was indicted by a grand jury June 28 on charges of second- and third-degree robbery, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence, all felonies, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Hoye set Aug. 24 as the deadline for the court to receive defense motions.
Authorities previously said Morrison was stabbed in the neck before midnight while walking from Doc's Remedy, a Gloversville bar on Bleecker Street, to his home in Johnstown.
The grand jury said Paul's alleged crimes against Morrison occurred before Morrison was stabbed. The indictment alleges Paul punched Morrison in the jaw, rendering him unconscious, and stole his wallet. The indictment further alleges that on July 6 or 7, 2010, Paul hid the wallet, which had no money in it, then destroyed it by burning it. Paul at the time was living in an apartment on Bleecker Street.
At his arraignment, Paul stood calmly in his orange county jail jumpsuit, answering the questions of Hoye. The defendant waived the reading of the indictment.
At the defense table, Wood told his client he stands accused of "causing injury to a person."
"You have a number of important rights," including a speedy trial, Hoye told Paul.
Assistant District Attorney Chad Brown told the court, "The people state we're ready for trial."
Hoye set Paul's bail at $50,000 cash or insurance bond before sending him back to jail. Paul told the judge if he is freed on bail, he plans to continue living in St. Johnsville.
Paul remained in the county jail this morning.
Paul had been held without bail after his indictment, but Wood requested the court grant a "low and moderate" bail. He suggested $10,000. He said Paul had a job at the Cumberland Farms in Dolgeville waiting for him before he was incarcerated and the defendant represents a "minimal flight risk."
"The matter of Mr. Morrison's demise has been ongoing in the region for two years," Wood said.
He said Paul, whom Gloversville police labeled a "person of interest" in Morrison's homicide in fall 2010, has been cooperative with police.
But Assistant District Attorney Chad Brown noted in court that Paul has a misdemeanor criminal history that included a bench warrant in March 2011. He said that history also included a "bail jumping" charge from 2006 in Mayfield, although he wasn't convicted.
Brown called for at least $50,000 bail, which the judge agreed to.
"He does have ties to the community," Hoye said. "[But], the charges are serious charges."
Hoye told Paul he faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison if convicted of the "most serious" top count of second-degree robbery, a violent felony.
Derek A. "Deke" Kenney, 42, of 157 Handy Road, Mayfield, was charged with second-degree murder by Gloversville police on July 9, 2010, after police said he fatally stabbed Morrison on Bleecker Street. Charges were dismissed Oct. 26 of that year after Kenney's attorneys argued grand-jury proceedings against Kenney were tainted because some witnesses lied.
Authorities said in October 2010 that multiple witnesses reported seeing Paul punch Morrison to the ground that night. Authorities said some of the female witnesses were friends with Paul and withheld information to protect him.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.