- Jun 15, 2016
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A judge Wednesday ruled that all four defendants accused of the murder of Craig Rideout will be tried together at a trial starting Tuesday.
Accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Craig Rideout are Rideout's wife, Laura Rideout; her boyfriend, Paul Tucci; and two sons whom Laura and Craig Rideout had together, Colin and Alexander Rideout.
The trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection Tuesday. State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moran said he expects the trial to last six weeks.
Moran ruled Wednesday that the four can be tried together. He also decided that some statements made by the brothers at Mendon Ponds Park, where prosecutors allege the two were destroying evidence, will not be allowed at trial.
On Tuesday, a jury pool of nearly 140 was cut in half almost immediately: Many said they could not commit to a trial that may last six weeks, and some others said they had preconceived thoughts about the accusations, based on media coverage and idle conversation, that they could not escape.
One woman who chose to leave immediately told another, "I've already had my mind made up for ages, and it's not good for them."
Opening statements will begin Friday at 1:30 p.m.
What is missing from the allegations against the four is just who may have killed Rideout.
He was strangled and there was a "ligature furrow completely encircling (his) neck" and a fracture of the hyoid bone a U-shaped bone that supports the tongue, court records showed. Rideout also suffered a fractured cheekbone and multiple cuts on his forehead and cheek possible signs of a fight while he was being strangled.
However, prosecutors do not have to show who specifically killed Rideout, if any of the defendants in fact did. Instead, they need to prove that each defendant could be considered an "accomplice" in the slaying, much like a getaway driver at a robbery.
The accused cannot be convicted of the murder based solely on actions after the homicide. If the jury finds, for example, that a defendant did knowingly try to hide evidence of Rideout's homicide, that does not by itself make the accused guilty of murder, but, instead, guilty of tampering with evidence.
The timeline could play a crucial role for prosecutors. If Robbyn Drew did speak with her brother around 7:20 p.m. July 19, as she said, then Tucci and Laura Rideout were at the Walmart about two hours later, buying materials that authorities claim were used to try to hide Rideout's corpse.
Two days before Craig Rideout's body was found in Yates County, his son Colin traveled to a Walmart in Macedon and bought drain cleaner, according to prosecutors.
In an apparent attempt to cloak the identity of Rideout, the killer used some acidic substance — possibly a heavy-duty drain cleaner — to disfigure his face. The body was found July 20.
This is only a fraction of the evidence prosecutors will use over the next month to six weeks to try to prove that Rideout was murdered by Colin Rideout, Colin's brother, Alexander Rideout, their mother, Laura Rideout, and her boyfriend, Paul "P.J." Tucci, Assistant District Attorney James Egan said in his opening statement Friday.
Butler, an evidence collection technician, testified about six pieces of evidence he found near the shoulder of the road: the shovel, impressions, tire impressions and other footwear activity in the dirt along the road, red stains along the pavement, a cigarette butt and a blue nylon bungee cord.
Butler said the tarp appeared to be tied around the body with three bungee cords that matched the one found near the roadway.
He also said at one point, while technicians were still collecting evidence and securing the body, a phone in the body's left front pocket began to ring.
Robbyn Drew, Craig Rideout's sister, took the witness stand on Tuesday, describing what she found when she went to look for her brother the day after he went missing.
"I called and emailed him and then called his work to see if he'd gone in," said Robbyn. "He didn't answer so I went over on my lunch break to check on him, and I saw Laura through the window in his apartment."
Allegations are that Laura Rideout and Tucci bought three bottles of drain cleaner, a tarp and bungee cords on July 19 at a store in Rochester, and that Colin Rideout purchased two bottles of drain cleaner, a shovel and work gloves in two separate Macedon buys on July 18 and 20.
Jurors watched videos from the Walmart stores, tracking the persons who made those purchases from the moment they exited their cars in the parking lots to when they drove away after cashing out.
Jurors heard from Mark Chauvin Bezinque, Craig Rideouts divorce attorney, who testified that under a temporary order, Craig Rideout had custody of the couple's two youngest children. He also testified that the order stipulated that any time there was a transfer of children, the parents were to remain in their cars unless there were "exigent" circumstances.
Also on Wednesday, a realty office manger from North Carolina testified that Paul Tucci and Laura Rideout had a signed a year-long lease for an apartment there, effective July 15, 2016.
Photos of the cord allegedly used to the strangle the life out of Craig Rideout, as well as a look at the basement of his Penfield townhome where prosecutors believe he died in July 2016, were on display Wednesday in court.
The photos centered on evidence gathered from the basement, which included cardboard with spots of blood on them and what appeared to be a bloody glove.
Craig W. Rideout's wallet and an assortment of bloodied clothing were among items police looking into his death discovered found stuffed into trashbags in the trunk of the car two of his sons had been using in Mendon Ponds Park last July.
In painstaking detail, Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Wendy Sears, a crime scene investigator, told jurors on Thursday of how she found the wallet, as well as multiple bloodied pants, shoes, shirts and underwear, in the Chrysler 200 on July 22. As well, she said, two keys were found that matched locks at Craig Rideout's Penfield condo.
By the time Friday rolled around, prosecutors in the Craig Rideout homicide trial needed four carts to carry their brown paper bags of evidence out of the courtroom.
And there are still as many as four weeks of proceedings to come.
Wasn't it possible that the strangulation did not take significant force?, Assistant Public Defender Julie Cianca implied in her questions Wednesday to Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Nadia Granger.
Moments later, defense lawyer Michael DiPrima took an entirely different approach, trying to prod Granger into testimony that showed that whoever killed Rideout had to be particularly strong.
While both Cianca and DiPrima are defense lawyers in the ongoing murder trial, their questions of Granger Wednesday were a stark reminder that there are four defendants on trial, and each is fighting for his or her own survival.
Dr. Nadia Granger showed the jury multiple, graphic images of the autopsy, saying Rideout died from strangulation.
She said a deep indentation of the skin all the way around the neck showed a device was used to strangle him.
IMO, So much hinges on the judges instructions to the jury. I also think that the ADA's need to have a strong showing with whomever is their "final" witness today (7/17/17). I just do not think they've yet had that TV-esque "bam" moment (yet). The coming defense, on the other hand, may be able to 'do it's job' by simply capitalizing on the quantity of evidence... and swirling some confusion about it... hoping to "confuse" or "disjoint" jurors.
Alexander Rideout's lawyer Julie Cianca led the closing statements for the four accused and called the case against him "weak" and "insignificant."
"This is not a game of Clue," she said, noting that the prosecution cannot definitively say who killed Craig Rideout.
I do not. Following from afar, and only through what's been published, it doesn't seem like the ADA's have presented an over-the-top compelling argument. Having said that, I absolutely believe that the murderer was seated at that defense table.Do you expect all four of them to be convicted of murder?