A woman accused of perjury in connection with the 2013 Schenectady arson that killed three of her children also changed her story about an unrelated baseball bat beating a year earlier.
Jennica Duell sat down with investigators in December 2012 to correct a prior statement she gave to police about the June 2012 attack outside her 438 Hulett St. apartment. Duell recounted to investigators in her follow-up statement that it was her then-boyfriend who hit the victim with the bat.
“Tommy’s face then went blank and he fell to the ground,” her statement reads, referring to the victim by his first name. She continued that the ex-boyfriend then kicked the victim while he was down, as did she and the boyfriend’s sister.
The June 2012 attack gained new attention earlier this month as Duell was formally accused of violating the probation she had been granted on the felony assault conviction. If she is now found to have violated that probation, she could face up to seven years in prison.
She appeared in court Thursday on those probation violation accusations and formally denied them. She is due back in court next month.
Duell’s accounts of the 2012 attack came in two statements — one to police shortly after the incident and one to investigators before taking her plea deal. Both were released Thursday by the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office at the request of The Daily Gazette.
Charged in the attack were Duell, her then-boyfriend, Michael Benway, and his sister Ann. Each eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, a felony. Michael Benway got three years in prison, Ann Benway received probation and Duell was sentenced to time already served in jail (about six months) and five years’ probation.
The entire incident, Duell told investigators in her second statement, included a larger group of people and stemmed from a Facebook message sent by Michael Benway to his former girlfriend, whose new boyfriend was the man Benway hit with the bat.
Duell’s second statement included greater detail than her first. She did not mention she’d kicked the victim in the first statement or say she saw who hit the victim with the bat.
Differing statements are at the heart of her federal perjury case. She is accused of testifying in that case in vivid detail that a man she was with, Robert A. Butler, started the deadly 2013 blaze at 438 Hulett St., the scene of the unrelated assault a year earlier. Butler was her boyfriend at the time of the fire.
She later contradicted this, testifying she and Butler stayed in Saratoga Springs the entire night.
Butler, 27 at the time of the fire, was quickly charged with setting the fire and spent nine months in jail awaiting trial before charges were dropped based on new evidence. No one is currently charged with setting the fire.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County