BALLSTON SPA – A member of the grand jury that indicted an off-duty Vermont sheriff’s deputy as the main culprit in the November shooting on Broadway is saying that the panel didn’t do its job properly.
In a letter Friday to Saratoga County Court Judge James Murphy III, the juror said they were “disturbed and upset by the process,” and that they were losing sleep because of it, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Gazette. The grand juror signed the letter simply “A juror.”
“I feel we rushed through our decision with little thought after hearing many days of very complicated evidence,” the juror wrote in the letter. “The law applying to this case was also very obtuse and hard to understand.”
It’s unknown what effect, if any, the juror’s letter will have on the indictment and the criminal cases going forward.
The indictment, unsealed last week, levied the most serious charges against 25-year-old Vito Caselnova, an off-duty Vermont sheriff’s deputy at the time of the wild late-night gunfight in Saratoga’s downtown bar district.
Caselnova was indicted on one count each of first-degree assault, possession of a firearm in a sensitive location, and two counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition-feeding device. He was also charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree menacing, both misdemeanors and second-degree harassment, a violation.
The grand jury also charged three other men involved in the altercation, but on lesser misdemeanor crimes.
Alexander Colon of Utica, who was confirmed to be the other person most heavily involved in the incident with Caselnova, was struck by a bullet fired by Caselnova and taken to the hospital, police have said.
The grand jury also handed down charges for Colon, 29, Darius Wright, 30, and Christopher Castillo, 29, all of Utica.
Officials have not outlined the three individuals’ alleged roles in the incident, or what specifically they are accused of doing, but all three face one count of third-degree attempted assault, a misdemeanor. At least one of the other three men, Colon, was in possession of a gun, authorities have indicated.
Officials said that Caselnova was seen holding a leveled handgun after several patrol officers encountered him. He was told multiple times to disarm before officers opened fire, officials said.
Police said Caselnova suffered 10 bullet wounds, but survived. He appeared in court last Tuesday alongside his attorneys.
Caselnova’s girlfriend, Cali Brown, was also shot in the arm during the incident and has filed a notice of claim against the city and police department alleging negligence and carelessness.
In the letter to Judge Murphy, the grand juror wrote that they felt the process was rushed. In grand jury proceedings, the District Attorney’s Office presents the case to the panel of jurors, which then decides which if any charges to bring against the accused.
“At least twice the ADA [Assistant District Attorney] spoke to us ‘off the record’ saying he wanted to finish on a specific day,” the letter states. “Each time he followed with ‘but don’t feel rushed.” On one occasion the ADA suggested coming in on a Friday to get done and the jury foreman objected forcefully, saying ‘I have a job.’ All of this put undue pressure on us to come to decisions.”
The grand jury member went on to state they felt ashamed for not properly doing their job.
In an email to Al Poremba, the assistant district attorney on the case, and Caselnova’s attorney, Greg Teresi, Murphy said that the letter was confirmed to have been delivered Friday by the a member of the grand jury and a copy of it was to be provided to Colon’s, Castillo’s and Wright’s lawyer.
The judge’s email had no further statements regarding the jury members’ letter.