EDITOR'S NOTE: As 2012 draws to a close, The Leader-Herald is reviewing the top local stories of the year in a five-part series. Today, we look at the top public safety and court news.
The shooting deaths of two local teenagers, the double slaying of an Amsterdam man and woman, and the case of a dead body found in Mayfield were among the top local public safety and court stories in 2012.
The killings of the two teenagers in the town of Florida stunned the local community. A Montgomery County grand jury indicted two other teenagers Dec. 21 on murder and weapons charges in the shooting deaths of the teens.
Investigators are shown at the scene of a double homicide March 2 in
Amsterdam. Police eventually charged city
resident Ivan Ramos with first-degree murder in the deaths of William
McDermott and Cheryl Goss.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Anthony E. Brasmeister, 16, and Matthew Phelps, 15, were arrested in the July 9 shooting deaths of Paul Damphier, 16, and Jonathan DeJesus, 13, in a field near Snooks' Corners Road in the town of Florida.
Phelps and Brasmeister were indicted Dec. 20 on two counts each of second-degree murder and two counts each of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the slayings, according to the office of District Attorney James "Jed" Conboy.
Conboy said Brasmeister and Phelps will be tried as adults.
He said the defendants will be arraigned Thursday in Montgomery County Court in Fonda before Acting County Court Judge Polly A. Hoye, her office said Dec. 21.
An Amsterdam man is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 22 after being charged with first-degree murder in the March 2 deaths of William McDermott and Cheryl Goss. The two were found stabbed to death in an apartment on Locust Avenue in Amsterdam.
The accused, Ivan Ramos, 30, of 51 Milton Ave., was found guilty of first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery in an unrelated home invasion at a Guy Park Avenue apartment and is scheduled for sentencing.
The driver of a car that crashed into a house in December, killing a front-seat passenger and badly injuring the deceased man's teenage sister, will spend at least two years in prison.
Justin M. VanNostrand, 20, of 186 Elmwood Ave., Gloversville, pleaded guilty June 13 in Fulton County Court to second-degree manslaughter and third-degree reckless endangerment, both felonies. He was sentenced Sept. 17 to 2 1/3 to seven years in state prison.
VanNostrand was the driver of a car involved in the Dec. 4 crash at the intersection of Route 29 and Steele Avenue Extension in the town of Johnstown. The accident claimed the life of his friend Christopher Insogna, 19, and seriously injured Insogna's sister, Kelsey, 17, who was riding in the back seat.
Brooklyn man sentenced
A Brooklyn man was sentenced July 13 in Fulton County Court to 25 years to life in state prison for shooting a Gloversville man last August.
Tyquanne D. "Turk" Madison, 24, was sentenced by Judge Richard C. Giardino as a second felony offender for shooting 24-year-old Codie Hayward.
Hayward was shot four times in his Littauer Place apartment. Hayward was shot in the chest and forearm, and twice in the right leg, but survived.
Madison previously was convicted of felony robbery in 2007 in Brooklyn, for which he received six months in jail.
Robbery, assault charged
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 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, and is awaiting trial.
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.
Paul faced no charges related to the stabbing,
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.
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 on July 6 or 7, 2010, Paul hid the wallet, which had no money in it, then destroyed it by burning it.
A Johnstown man was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury Sept. 21 on three felony counts, including assault, for allegedly recklessly firing a rifle and shooting a woman on Spring Street on May 17.
Joseph R. Miller, 20, of Cummings Avenue, was indicted on charges of second-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment.
Miller was charged by Gloversville police in July on the same charges in the shooting, which severely injured Danielle Schonfarber. The indictment says he "did recklessly cause serious physical injury" to Schonfarber by "recklessly discharging" a .223 Olympic Arms semiautomatic rifle inside a residence at 174 Spring St.
"It was the early morning hours," county District Attorney Louise Sira said Sept. 21. "At the time, they were attempting to maneuver the gun to try to fix some sort of defect and it went off."
The indictment says the weapon "was discharged toward and struck" Schonfarber, causing serious injury to her abdomen and hip. She was treated and released from intensive care in May.
A Gloversville man pleaded guilty Aug. 2 in Fulton County Court to one felony count of fourth-degree conspiracy for supplying a gun that was used to rob and injure David Ortiz last summer in Gloversville.
Andrew "Drew" Rosario, 34, of 14 Grove St., pleaded guilty before Judge Polly A. Hoye in a plea arrangement.
Police said he supplied 27-year-old Edwin Pastor with a gun to rob Ortiz on Aug. 22, 2011, in the North Main Street parking lot of Naif's Discount Beverage & Tobacco.
Rosario's sentencing is pending, but he is expected to receive one year in the county jail and be ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Pastor admitted to accidentally shooting Ortiz in the face as he pistol-whipped him. Pastor is serving a six-year prison sentence.
Rosario was originally charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and fourth-degree criminal facilitation after the February trial of Louis "Black" Robinson, 26, of the Bronx.
Robinson was found guilty of being an accomplice in the crime and sentenced to 18 years in state prison with five years of post-release supervision.
Codie Hayward, 24, of Gloversville, who also was at the scene of the robbery and shooting, is serving a seven-year prison term.
Police said Rosario and Richard A. Sanchez, 23, of 69 W. Fulton St., Gloversville, were involved in planning the incident, but they did not take part in the actual robbery and assault with the other suspects.
According to testimony from Hayward and Pastor, Rosario paid the two men and Robinson with cocaine and cash to rob Ortiz at gunpoint.
Sanchez was charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and fourth-degree criminal facilitation. The case against Sanchez is pending.
Dominic LaTorre, 4, was swimming in the Great Sacandaga Lake at the Northampton State Campground beach July 22 when he drowned.
Authorities said the boy was swimming with his friends when he was separated from them and was reported missing at 4:55 p.m.
The child was found after a subsequent search.
In another drowning, state police at Princetown identified the body recovered from the Mohawk River in Glenville on July 27 as Richard S. Bennett, a 41-year-old man from Galway.
An investigation determined Bennett was the driver who fled from a traffic stop in the area of Route 5 and Route 103, troopers said.
An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to drowning. The death was ruled accidental.
A woman whose dead body was found June 4 in a remote section of Mayfield consumed alcohol before her death, Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said Aug. 10.
Sira said Brent S. Alling Sr. - husband of the deceased Kathryn Jackson Alling - remains a suspect in her death.
The district attorney said she anticipates that, pending additional autopsy results, she will bring the case to a Fulton County grand jury. The grand jury will examine the "circumstances of death" and decide if anyone will be charged, Sira said.
Sira said she received toxicology results for 54-year-old Kathryn Jackson Alling. Her naked, bruised and dead body was found June 4 on remote Tyrrell Road by town of Mayfield employees collecting garbage.
Brent Alling's attorney, Robert Abdella of Gloversville, had no comment at that time.
After the discovery of Kathryn Alling's body, Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey labeled Brent Alling, 42, of 127 Delaney Road, a person of interest in the case.
Tirzah Henry, a Mayfield resident who had 34 dogs taken from her in June, received time in jail and was granted custody of seven of the dogs after reaching a plea agreement to a misdemeanor charge of abandonment of animals Oct. 30.
Henry forfeited 27 dogs and was sentenced to 32 days in jail under the plea agreement, said Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira.
Henry previously was charged with 11 counts, including overdriving, torturing and injuring animals and unlawful disposal of dead animals, after Fulton County sheriff's officials discovered three dead animals and 34 live animals when serving her an eviction notice at her former 395 Progress Road residence June 22.
Henry's lawyer, Gerard Heckler, said he agrees with the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society's statement that Henry had too many dogs. Heckle said he is satisfied with the outcome of the case.
Henry will be restricted to owning only the seven dogs for three years as part of the plea agreement.
Heckler said dead dogs were found at Henry's residence, but that was because she hadn't been at the house and couldn't care for them.
"It was the charge that made the most sense because she wasn't there when the dogs passed away," he said. "There was no evidence of animal cruelty. She was absent. A male dog did pass away as well as a puppy, so that was the basis of her plea."
Superstorm Sandy relief
In late October, Superstorm Sandy devastated portions of the northeastern United States, including New York City, Staten Island and parts of New Jersey.
Area residents' hearts went out to the victims of the storm. Local residents launched efforts to aid the victims.
For example, Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital, Ruby & Quiri and Grandma Millie's Bakery are collecting supplies to bring donations to the victims. Eileen King of Johnstown and her friend, Darcy Panetta, along with several other volunteers, filled a tractor-trailer with items. Many businesses provided spaces for donation drop-off spots. At least 60 Fulton-Montgomery Community College students and staff, and some of their family members, went to Staten Island after Thanksgiving to help. Local charitable organizations, civic groups and businesses also made donations.