Montgomery County

Prosecutor: Slain Fort Plain man shot in head in dispute that began over $160

Prosecutor Kelli McCoski, left, defense attorney Stephen Rockmacher, right
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Prosecutor Kelli McCoski, left, defense attorney Stephen Rockmacher, right

FONDA – A dispute that began over $160 led three men to conspire to kill Fort Plain resident Joshua L. Laveck last June by shooting him in the head, Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski told a jury Tuesday.

One of the three men, Eric S. Rivera, had owed Laveck the money and a disagreement over whether the money was being paid back led to online threats from Laveck, McCoski told the jury.

The three men then decided to take action against Laveck, McCoski said.

“They get together and they decide that this isn’t going to happen,” McCoski told the jury at the opening of Rivera’s second-degree murder trial. “‘We’re going to get Joshua Laveck before he gets one of us.'”

The three then did so, by going to Laveck’s 60 Division St. residence. Rivera and a second suspect, Garry L. Sweet III, approached the residence while driver Aaron Cockfield remained in the car away from the scene. Rivera got Laveck onto the porch.

“They’re arguing and Garry Sweet goes up the porch and around behind Joshua Laveck and shoots him back of the head and kills him,” McCoski told the jury.

Rivera, 32, of Gloversville, is standing trial this week on second-degree murder and other charges.

He, Sweet, 39, of Fort Plain, and Cockfield, 34, of Johnstown were all charged with murder in the case. Cockfield recently pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and is to get 15 years in prison. Sweet’s case remains pending and he is expected to stand trial after Rivera’s case concludes.

McCoski and Rivera’s attorney offered their opening statements to the Montgomery County Court jury in Rivera’s trial Tuesday. 

Rivera’s attorney Stephen Rockmacher argued Rivera wasn’t involved in the shooting. Rivera didn’t have a motive, Rockmacher said. Rockmacher argued Sweet did and that Sweet held a vendetta against Laveck.

“I submit to you that Garry Sweet is responsible for Mr. Laveck’s death and Eric Rivera is now caught up in Garry Sweet’s web.”

McCoski argued Rivera’s motive lay in the $160 and subsequent threats.

Sometime before the killing, Rivera borrowed the money from Laveck. The agreement was that he would pay it back in installments, McCoski said. He did so through Sweet, but the money didn’t make it to Laveck.

Laveck became upset and started talking to others about the money owed. He also started talking on Facebook about how he knew where Rivera family members lived. Sweet then told Rivera he’d heard Laveck wanted Rivera and Cockfield stabbed, McCoski said.

The three then decided to go after Laveck, McCoski said.

Late on June 29, 2018, the three drove to a location nearby in Herkimer County, where Sweet and Rivera retrieved guns. Cockfield then drove them to Fort Plain.

At Laveck’s residence, Rivera got Laveck onto the porch and started an argument. After Sweet fired, Sweet and Rivera returned to the car and Cockfield drove them away.

If convicted of the murder count, Rivera would face up to 25 years to life in prison. Rivera’s trial is expected to last about a week. Judge Felix Catena is presiding.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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