Victim’s family objects to bail in Rotterdam murder case; Released on $100K cash bail

This supplied photo shows 24-year-old Sutlesh Girdharry who was stabbed to death on Jan. 1 in Rotterdam.

This supplied photo shows 24-year-old Sutlesh Girdharry who was stabbed to death on Jan. 1 in Rotterdam.

ROTTERDAM — The family of a man killed on New Year’s Day in Rotterdam is upset and shocked that bail was set for the Schenectady man charged in his murder. 

Christopher Smith-Wadsworth, 31, of Schenectady was indicted in February on second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and possession of a dangerous instrument in the Jan. 1 stabbing of 24-year-old Sutlesh Girdharry. 

Smith-Wadsworth posted $100,000 cash on Wednesday.

“I don’t know why he’s out,” Roopmanie Pooran, Girdharry’s mother said Wednesday. “He killed my son and he’s out walking around like nothing happened.” 

Pooran’s sister and Girdharry’s aunt Jairajie Pooran were also appalled by the decision. 

“What this judge did was wrong, he shouldn’t have gotten bail,” she said. 

Judge Matthew Sypniewski set Smith-Wadsworth’s bail at $100,000 cash or $250,000 bond when he appeared in court Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Nicolaus Brooks-McDonald said he asked for Smith-Wadsworth to be remanded to the county jail. 

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“I worry he’s going to be a flight risk,” he said. 

Brooks-McDonald said he had never seen bail set so low for a murder charge. He declined to comment on Smith-Wadsworth’s criminal history. 

But, Smith-Wadsworth was on probation at the time of the killing, according to court documents provided by his attorney, Kevin Luibrand. Smith-Wadsworth pleaded guilty in May 2019 to misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to three years, according to court documents. His probation is set to end May 12. 

He has also pleaded guilty to two other charges and a violation. 

“Smith-Wadsworth has been on probation for a better part of eight years without violation,” the documents state.

Luibrand also argued for bail to be set based on health issues facing Smith-Wadsworth, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2021, according to court documents. Luibrand stated in court documents that his client is experiencing pain, particularly in the last month, and sees a urologist on a regular basis to check if the cancer has come back. 

Smith-Wadsworth, a life-long resident of the Capital Region, with family in the area, is employed as a cook at Katie O’Byrne’s and at A-1 Lawn Care & Services, Luibrand noted in his bail request.

“Smith-Wadsworth’s release from custody would allow him to continue working and earn income to pay for his legal defense in this case and other financial responsibilities,” court documents state.  The fact that he turned himself in and provided a statement to police and the district attorney’s office, should be looked on favorably, the documents showed.

Luibrand declined to comment further on the case. However, in court documents he argues that the prosecution has not provided “witness related factual discovery.” He quoted a statement District Attorney Robert Carney made in a press release regarding the indictment: 

“It is fair based upon the record thus far to assert that this is a case where the government is not asserting overwhelming evidence, and instead acknowledges at the very outset that the proof is controverted by the witnesses and that there are conflicting versions of what occurred.” 

Girdharry’s family said the bail decision was hard on the family while they are still processing Girdharry’s death. 

Roopmanie Pooran said her son did not know Smith-Wadsworth and she doesn’t understand why he was killed. 

Police were called shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 1 to the area of Curry Road near Ferguson Street about a man who was being assaulted. That man was later identified as Girdharry. 

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He was found dead in the front yard of a home in the 2100 block of Curry Road, police said. 

The victim, along with some friends and family members, were celebrating the new year on Jan. 1 in front of the residence on Curry Road when an unidentified number of people, some of whom had been at the celebration, returned in two cars, prosecutors said.

A fight then broke out between some of the people at the part and some of the people who had shown up in the cars. Smith-Wadsworth is accused of stabbing Girdharry multiple times.

Girharry had attended the party with a friend, said Roopmanie Pooran. She described her son was big hearted and was her right-hand. 

Girdharry’s brother, Ganesh Ramgoolan, was slain in the city of Schenectady in 2011. After that the family said Girdharry was sad, but lately had been focusing on his construction job. 

“He was hard-working,” his mother said. 

If someone didn’t have enough money to buy a loaf of bread he would buy it for them, his mother said. 

“He had a good heart,” she said.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at 518-478-3320 or by email at [email protected].

Updated 8:11 a.m.

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Categories: News, Rotterdam, Schenectady, Schenectady County

William Aiken March 3, 2022
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WHy did the reporter of this story choose to not mention the Judge’s name? I had read the story twice looking for the name of the Judge. It was the low cash bail determined by the Judge, that allowed the defendant to be set free. This judge is the central subject of the story. So why does the Gazette fail to identify the judge by name? This glaring omission appears to be intentional.