FONDA — The man now accused of murder in the 2019 death of Kristine Howland Darling in the town of Amsterdam was arraigned Tuesday on an indictment charging him with murder and staging the scene to appear as a suicide.
Michael Darling, of Gloversville, the victim’s 44-year-old husband, was captured Saturday on the new indictment after authorities appealed to the public for help finding him.
Michael Darling appeared in orange jail clothing with his attorney Michael Viscosi, of the public defender’s office, and entered a plea of not guilty to the four-count indictment lodged against him.
Darling said little in the arraignment, answering only direct questions from the judge. Judge Chad Brown ordered him held. His attorney can make an application for bail at a later date.
Darling is formally accused of murder in Kristine Howland Darling’s death, causing her death by gunshot wound Feb. 7, 2019 at 45 Fort Johnson Ave., in the town of Amsterdam, according to the indictment.
Along with the second-degree murder count, Darling also faces one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of tampering with evidence.
He is accused of illegally possessing a rifle on the date and at the location of his wife’s alleged murder, having been previously convicted of a crime.
Related to the evidence tampering counts, Darling is accused of preparing “false physical evidence by staging the crime scene to appear as a suicide attempt,” the indictment reads.
He is also accused of concealing a cell phone believing it to have been evidence, according to the indictment.
Darling is next due in court later in June. A tentative trial date has been set for Oct. 23.
Montgomery County First District Attorney Christina Pearson is representing the District Attorney’s Office.
Kristine M. Howland Darling, 44, the mother of a teenage daughter, died at her Fort Johnson home on Feb. 6, 2019. Michael Darling claimed she died by suicide. Police continued to actively investigate the incident involving a shotgun in the years since.
Michael Darling previously faced federal charges after pipe bombs were found during a welfare check at his Gloversville home on Feb. 12, 2021.
Darling then pleaded guilty in federal court in October 2021 to illegally possessing firearms and unlawful possession of six pipe bombs. In March 2022, he was sentenced to what was supposed to be a three-year term in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Darling was released from that sentence on May 8.
But, it was during that case that the existence of the continuing investigation into Kristine Howland Darling’s death was revealed publicly, as federal prosecutors referenced it in a February 2021 court appearance.
Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith then confirmed her death by gunshot wound was being investigated and confirmed Michael Darling to be a person of interest.
Kristine M. Howland Darling grew up in Gloversville and graduated from Gloversville High School, her obituary read. She was an employee at the Wilkinson Residential Health Care Facility in Amsterdam.
She left behind her daughter.
Family and friends had always had suspicions about her death, her lifelong friend Megan Rizzo said then. Those suspicions surfaced publicly on Facebook in January 2021 as Rizzo, after discussions with the family, started a page titled simply “Seeking Justice for Kristine Howland.”
Michael Darling told Rizzo that Kristine had committed suicide, Rizzo said.
“My immediate thought when I was told she committed suicide was there was no way she committed suicide,” Rizzo said in February 2021. “That was not her personality. Her daughter was her absolute world. She would never leave her daughter.”
The Facebook group now has more than 1,100 members.
Rizzo responded to the weekend’s events in a post to the group Monday.
“To those who know, take that moment to breathe that sigh of relief. We’ve waited so long for what we believe to be the truth. Feelings, wow. This seems surreal, unbelievable, relief, validation…. So much more…,” she wrote, in part. “For now, let’s raise our glasses to Justice 🥂, to truth ⚖️ and to remembering Kristine’s 💚 life. I know she is smiling down!”