The jury deliberating the guilt or innocence of Steven Raucci, on trial on arson and terrorism charges in Schenectady County Court, ended deliberations for the day at 8 p.m.
Earlier, at 6:35 p.m., the jury asked for a rereading of the elements of the terrorism charge and criminal possession of a weapon charge as they relate to the November 2006 incident allegedly targeting former city schools athletic director Gary DiNola.
DiNola and Raucci, the school district’s facilities chief and energy manager, were enmeshed in controversy over control of the athletic fields lights and access to facilities.
DiNola testified on March 16 that he discovered his tires slashed and an explosive device on his car.
The jury of six men and six women stayed past the normal 5 p.m. time of dismissal, ordering dinner and then continuing deliberations into the night.
Prior to the dinner break, the jury had requested a slow rereading of the elements of the crime of second-degree criminal mischief.
They also wanted a definition of all terms connected with the definition.
The criminal mischief counts relate to multiple acts of vandalism targeting Hal and Deborah Gray, Ron Kriss and Laura Balogh.
Raucci faces a total of seven counts of second-degree criminal mischief related to six incidents, as well as other charges including felony-level arson and terrorism counts.
Earlier this afternoon, the jury asked to read again the cross-examination of Hal Gray and his testimony regarding his discussions with Raucci after the 2001 Rotterdam bombing.
Their other requests relate directly to acts allegedly targeting the Grays.
Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, is accused of threatening Hal Gray in June 2007, telling him to get out of the union. Gray stayed in the union.
The jury asked for three readbacks related to that encounter, Gray’s testimony, that of Raucci’s then-secretary Ellen Frederick and local union official Jeffrey Zabielski, the CSEA unit president at the Glendale Home.
Zabielski testified he saw Raucci talking to Gray at the county office building, at the time Gray said Raucci was threatening him, telling Gray to leave the union and leave Joanne DeSarbo, the county union president, alone.
Frederick testified that she saw Raucci rehearsing what he was going to tell Gray at the encounter, and that he confirmed later that he said what he intended to say.
Zabielski’s testimony also touched on a June 2008 health fair at Glendale where Laura Balogh, a CSEA health benefits expert, was a participant. Raucci accused the Grays of inviting Balogh to the health fair.
Balogh had previously had a relationship with the county CSEA local president DeSarbo, but had broken it off. Balogh’s home in Schodack was vandalized and a bomb was left there, though it did not explode.
There is also the surveillance video from the Grays’ home the morning it was last vandalized, Feb. 16, 2009. The video is brief, showing a figure run up to the front door then run away.
The video is of the same incident related to this morning’s readback of Raucci’s later secretary Barbara Tidball. In that readback, Tidball testified Raucci admitted to her he vandalized the Grays’ home that morning.
The readbacks on incidents related to the Grays’ home in Saratoga County suggest the jury has moved past the initial questions of jurisdiction. The jury was to first find jurisdiction for prosecution in Schenectady County on crimes allegedly committed outside the county.
District Attorney Robert Carney’s position is that Schenectady County has jurisdiction on those charges in Saratoga, Albany and Rensselaer counties because Raucci intended for those acts to have an impact in Schenectady County.
Earlier in the day, jurors asked the judge for a readback of the definition of “reasonable doubt” and of testimony by Raucci’s secretary, Tidball.
The first jury note was sent out just after 10 a.m. A second note came out moments later.
Tidball had testified about a conversation she had with Raucci on Feb. 16, 2009.
She said Raucci admitted to her that he vandalized Hal and Deborah Gray’s home, that Raucci said “I didn’t want anyone else to take credit for my work.” The vandalism incident, where yellow paint was thrown on the Grays’ front door, was the last in a series of vandalism incidents targeting the Grays.
The jury also asked for Judge Polly A. Hoye to reread the definition of “reasonable doubt,” as well as instructions about working with other jurors.
Jurors in criminal cases are instructed that they must find a defendant not guilty if they have reasonable doubt that he is guilty as charged.
Reasonable doubt is partially defined as a lower standard than “all possible doubt” and higher than a finding that the defendant is “probably guilty.”
A reasonable doubt is also an honest doubt because of the nature and quality of the evidence. The reasonable doubt must also be actual, not imaginary.
Regarding working with other jurors, the judge told the panel that jurors must present their views and other jurors should listen.
Jurors shouldn’t enter deliberations with a closed mind or decline to discuss the evidence with fellow jurors.
Jurors should always be open to reason. Jurors shouldn’t surrender their honest view of the evidence because they want the trial to end or are out voted.
Jurors also have the right, if they are convinced they are correct, to adhere to their conclusions.
During the readbacks, two of the jurors appeared slouching in their seats.
Others took notes. One juror asked for the judge to slow down the reading of the legal issues.
Regarding “reasonable doubt,” Raucci’s lawyer, Ronald De Angelus made a show in his closings of listing off the reasonable doubts he saw in the case. For each reasonable doubt, he placed a plastic Easter egg in a plastic bag. By the time he was done, the bag held many reasonable doubts.
The jury also asked the judge if they could send her a personal note. The judge explained that any note would be shared with the attorneys. Judges also can’t talk with jurors about the evidence or their deliberations.
On Tuesday, the jury sent out successive notes on two different and unrelated parts of the case. The Tuesday notes covered testimony related to the 1993 bombing of a home in Glenville and the 2006 attempted bombing of a car in Clifton Park.
Raucci, the former facilities head of the Schenectady city school district, is facing numerous charges ranging from criminal mischief to weightier felonies of arson and terrorism. The jury has been deliberating since Monday.