Schenectady County

Trial opens in deadly Schenectady grocery store robbery

Opening arguments got under way in Schenectady County Court on Thursday in the trial of 25-year-old

Laurel Teer’s excitement over a winning lottery ticket ended in tragedy two years ago.

Teer was shot to death at the Eastern Avenue Deli & Grocery on June 5, 2009, as an armed gunman attempted to rob the store. Opening arguments got under way in Schenectady County Court on Thursday in the trial of the man accused of that crime — 25-year-old Wade McCommons Jr. of 836 Holland Road — who faces second-degree murder and 16 other charges.

The proceedings followed 2 1/2 days of jury selection. In his opening statement, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said Teer was a homebody who liked to crochet. She went to the deli that night to get a beer and lottery tickets.

“She lingered at the counter because she had a winning lottery ticket,” Carney said.

It was at that moment that McCommons allegedly entered the store. He was wearing a black pointy hooded sweatshirt and red bandana covering his face. He displayed a pistol and demanded money from the clerk.

Then, McCommons grabbed Teer to get her out of the way. Teer did not like to be touched, according to Carney.

“She pivoted, turned and kicked him in the groin, saying ‘Get off,’ ” Carney said.

At that point, McCommons went to strike her in the face with his gun, which Carney described as a shiny silver pistol with a black grip. In the process, the gun fired and a bullet went through her skull. The recoil of the gun caused the gunman to drop it to the floor.

As Teer slumped to the ground, he picked her up, looking for the gun, and then dumped her back on the floor. This incident was captured on a surveillance camera, according to Carney, but McCommons’ face was obscured.

“There are no forensics — no fingerprints, no DNA,” Carney said.

However, people will testify during the trial that McCommons spoke about the incident with others, including members of the Bloods street gang. One of those conversations about McCommons disposing the gun was recorded.

McCommons is also accused of forcibly entering a Rugby Road home on May 27, 2009, and brandishing a handgun at a female resident in an unsuccessful effort to get money.

A neighbor heard the commotion and came to ring the doorbell, according to Carney. McCommons took the woman and locked her in the basement of the house before fleeing with an accomplice.

Carney said there was DNA evidence at the Rugby Road crime scene, Carney said, because McCommons cut his hand on the broken glass of a window. Witnesses will testify that the suspect was wearing a red bandana and hooded sweatshirt, just like the suspect in the convenience store shooting.

Attorney Adam Parisi said he will be challenging the reliability of the witnesses, saying that they are testifying against McCommons to avoid jail time.

“These are not objective witnesses. They are not biased witnesses; they are very biased witnesses,” Parisi said.

Parisi said DNA found on Teer’s shoulder was not a match to his client.

The prosecution’s case could take all of next week, according to Carney. There are about 50 witnesses on the list, but Carney said he will not call all to testify.

McCommons is facing charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, two counts of burglary, six counts of attempted robbery, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of menacing, one count of unlawful imprisonment, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

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