The case of the Victory Mills teen charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his mother’s fiancé during a domestic altercation has been held over for a grand jury after a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Saratoga Town Court.
Albany defense attorney Terence L. Kindlon said he may take the rare step of having his client, 18-year-old Matthew J. Brown, testify before the grand jury. Kindlon has called this a clear-cut case of self-defense and the confrontation “David vs. Goliath.”
Brown was charged with second-degree murder after stabbing Derick K. Clark, 32, in the neck during a violent altercation between Brown’s mother, 34-year-old Heather Brown, and Clark. The incident occurred Friday night at the 66-A Gates Ave. residence where all three were living.
Only one witness was called during the preliminary hearing before Town Justice Kurt Mausert: Saratoga County sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Moldenhouer, the first responder to the scene.
He said upon arriving that he saw “a large amount of blood” on the floor, as well as the weapon used in the killing. Heather Brown was trying to stop the bleeding from Clark’s neck wound, while Matthew Brown “appeared to be in shock.”
“He was just mesmerized,” the deputy testified. “He was just crying, very emotional, very shaky.”
Clark was pronounced dead at the scene by Saratoga County Coroner Daniel Kuhn.
The deputy said the teen told him Clark was trying to attack him after he’d called 911 to report the physical altercation between his mother and Clark. Kindlon has described Clark as 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds; the defendant is around 5-feet tall and slight. Appearing in court Tuesday shackled and in green prison garb, Brown’s pants dragged beneath his feet. He was attentive but did not speak or move while seated at the defense table, except to occasionally fiddle with his fingers.
“Derick ran upstairs. Matthew attempted to close the door and hold it closed,” the deputy testified. “He pushed his way in.”
The mother, who had earlier feigned sleep, rushed in to get between Clark and the Schuylerville High School junior when the stabbing occurred. There was no physical contact between Clark and Matthew Brown until the stabbing.
“He was afraid Derick was going to hurt him . . . but not kill him,” the deputy said, relating Brown’s account to him. “He didn’t mean to hit the victim in the neck. He was aiming for the shoulder.”
The deputy said he smelled alcohol in Matthew Brown’s bedroom, where the stabbing occurred. Kindlon has said previously Clark was in an alcohol-fueled rage at the time. Earlier in the week, District Attorney James A. Murphy III said there is an apparent history of domestic violence in the household.
The preliminary hearing attracted supporters for both Clark and Matthew Brown. Two women held up signs, one reading: “Justice for a Gentle Giant.”
“We love him and miss him and want to have justice,” said Kaitlin Gee, a friend of Clark from Schuylerville. “He didn’t have to be stabbed in the neck. There was another way around it.”
Meanwhile, a contingent of more than a dozen Victory Mills Fire Department members showed up to back Matthew Brown, a fellow member.
“We are here to show our support,” Chief Mark Dennison said. “He is one of our brothers now, and we are family.”
Two men from the Matthew Brown camp tried to block photographers and videographers from taking photos or footage of Brown while he was in a county sheriff’s patrol car. One of them later got into a brief verbal altercation outside the town court with the two women supporting Clark.
Kindlon said “the burden of proof is extremely low” in a preliminary hearing, which requires that there is probable cause a felony has been committed, and expected the case to be held over for a grand jury. He said he is extremely confident there is no chance a grand jury will hand up a murder indictment.
“We just heard the entire prosecution’s case,” said Kindlon, who did not dispute any of the facts presented, other than Clark being referred to as “victim.”
“That is the whole shooting match,” he added.
After the hearing, Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Lyn A. Murphy declined to say whether her office would seek an indictment for murder or a lesser charge.
“We will proceed in a manner that ensures justice for all parties involved,” she said.
Brown is charged with second-degree murder under the theory of depraved indifference to human life. He is being held at Saratoga County jail without bail.