Day 22: Raucci jury views security videotape

The jury in the Steven Raucci arson and terrorism trial appeared to make progress during 11 hours We

The jury in the Steven Raucci arson and terrorism trial appeared to make progress during 11 hours Wednesday. But not enough to reach a verdict on the second full day of deliberations.

The jury convened at 9 a.m. Wednesday and worked until 8 p.m., pushing total deliberation time toward the 20-hour mark, considering 22 counts against Raucci. The panel is to return today at 9 a.m.

Several members of the six-man, six-woman jury appeared tired in the courtroom. One of the panel’s early questions related to how they should work with their fellow jurors.

Jury questions Wednesday related directly to the Nov. 30, 2006 attempted bombing of city schools Athletic Director Gary DiNola’s car and Raucci’s alleged attempted coercion of union foe Hal Gray,

Regarding DiNola, the jury asked for the elements of the crimes of first-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one of the more controversial charges, terrorism.

Both related to DiNola’s case. Prosecutors allege with the terrorism count that Raucci attempted to influence district energy policy by placing the device, thereby getting DiNola to stop his challenges in that area.

The previous day, the jury asked for a readback of testimony from a district employee who said Raucci asked for DiNola’s address the night before the device was discovered.

Raucci, 61, a resident of Niskayuna, is standing trial on 22 counts charging criminal mischief as well as arson and terrorism.

Raucci served as the city school district’s facilities manager and also led the union unit representing the workers he supervised. It was a dual position that prosecutors say made him valuable to the school administration for his ability to keep labor peace.

The prosecution charges that Raucci is responsible for numerous criminal acts, including placing bombs on homes or cars, in a series of incidents intended to intimidate people he perceived as enemies or enemies of his friends.

In some cases, the prosecution alleges, his actions were designed to maintain and solidify his positions with the school district, which included the additional title of energy manager. His role as energy manager allowed him to earn thousands of dollars in overtime pay every year.

The jury Wednesday asked a general question concerning the elements and definitions of the crime of second-degree criminal mischief. Raucci faces seven such counts, each relating to multiple incidents against Hal and Deborah Gray, Ron Kriss and Laura Balogh.

There were two specific questions concerning the Feb. 16, 2009 vandalism at the Grays’ home, the last of a series of attacks on their property. Raucci is accused of dumping a can of yellow paint on the Grays’ front door and steps.

The jury also asked for a readback of testimony given by Raucci’s secretary, Barbara Tidball. She testified about a conversation she said 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.”

Surveillance video

The jury also asked for the surveillance video from the Grays’ home the morning it was last vandalized. The video is brief, showing a hooded figure run up to the front door then run away. The jury asked for it to be played slowly, frame by frame.

If the jury was trying to compare the figure in the video to Raucci himself, if such a comparison were even possible, the jury has only seen Raucci stand and sit. They have not seen him walk. He is led in before the jury is in and led out after the jury has left.

Other than the criminal mischief question, there have been no queries relating directly to the vandalism and attempted bombing of Balogh’s home in Schodack. There has also been little asked concerning the 1993 Glenville bombing and 2001 bombing of a home in Rotterdam.

Regarding one charge, first-degree attempted coercion, the jury Wednesday asked for virtually all the related testimony read back. Raucci is accused of threatening Hal Gray in June 2007, telling him to get out of the union and leave Raucci’s ally Joanne DeSarbo alone. Gray stayed in the union.

The jury asked for three readbacks related to that encounter: Gray’s testimony; testimony from Raucci’s then-secretary Ellen Frederick; and testimony of 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. 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.

The jury also asked for Judge Polly A. Hoye to reread the definition of “reasonable doubt,” as well as the 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 as to guilt. Reasonable doubt is partially defined as a lower standard than “all possible doubt” and higher than a finding that the defendant is “probably guilty.”

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, she said. 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.

Regarding “reasonable doubt,” Raucci’s lawyer in his closings listed the reasonable doubts he saw in the case. For each reasonable doubt, he placed a plastic Easter egg in a baggie. By the time he was done, the bag held many.

The jurors also asked the judge at one point 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.

Categories: Schenectady County

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