The arson and terrorism trial of Steven Raucci will remain in Schenectady County, Raucci’s defense attorney said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a judicial hearing officer ruled Tuesday that the video of Raucci’s interrogation by police would be allowed at the trial, though Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney reiterated he remains unsure whether he will use the recording.
Raucci’s attorney Ronald DeAngelus confirmed Tuesday that Raucci would not seek to have the trial moved to a different county. A potential change of venue request by the defense had been the topic of speculation, given the intense pre-trial interest in the case.
But DeAngelus said Tuesday his client wants the case to remain in Schenectady. Trial is set to begin March 1.
“My client has great respect for the people in Schenectady County,” DeAngelus said.
The case has garnered extensive pre-trial media coverage, helped along by a protracted bail fight, lawsuits, attempted lawsuits and open questions related to whether anyone at the city school district knew of Raucci’s alleged deeds. Carney has alleged that higher-ups at the district were beholden to Raucci.
All of that has been on top of the regular pre-trial hearings and motions in the criminal case.
An estimated 600 potential jurors are expected to be on call for selection, officials have said. That number is twice the normal.
Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, is accused of placing explosive devices at four houses around the Capital Region, including in Rotterdam and Schodack. Two of the devices exploded, but no one was injured. He is also accused of damaging the cars and homes of people who disagreed with him, slashing tires and damaging paint or windshields. One family reported their car being vandalized five times.
Many of the individuals had ties to the Schenectady City School District or the CSEA. Raucci was head of Local 847 of the union as well as facilities director for the school district.
Raucci ultimately lost his fight for bail. He remains in custody, held at the Schenectady County Jail without bail since his Feb. 20, 2009 arrest.
His interrogation after his arrest was the subject of a hearing last month on whether Raucci’s statements to investigators would be admissible. Former Schenectady County Court Judge Michael Eidens, acting as a judicial hearing officer, ruled that the interrogation can be used at trial.
DeAngelus argued that Raucci never consented to be questioned without a lawyer and asked for help 28 times. Eidens ruled Tuesday that Raucci voluntarily waived his rights to an attorney.
The video was played at a hearing last month. Raucci made no admissions of guilt on the recording and even appeared cordial during the interview of less than 90 minutes.
The video and questioning itself is expected to be a minor piece of the prosecution’s case, if it’s presented to the jury at all. But DeAngelus said if the prosecution doesn’t use it, he may introduce it himself to let the jury decide for itself what the video contains.