Your fifteen minutes of infamy

Tyler Murphy

Here’s a list of who’s who in our recent world of crime in Chenango. With everything going on it’s even hard for me to keep things straight. So here’s some basic info and my humble take on each.

Daniel L. Brown Sr., 45, Norwich, is charged with 2nd degree murder for allegedly killing his property manager for yet-unknown reasons.

Apparently she was making her usual work-related rounds and stopped at his residence, where she was beaten and strangled to death. Police claim he told them where to find the murder weapon and that he attempted to turn himself in. Also the prosecution says he basically made a confession about the crime to officers and that it was recorded. Brown was being evicted and has a history of drugs (and allegedly still does) and domestic violence.

My Take: I try to be impartial, and not everything has been released about this very sensitive crime, but considering what is known at this point, I would have to say the writing is on the wall. We have a body at his house, cops saying he confessed, his own phone call leading to his arrest and something of a violent drug history. If he’s innocent, then he must be the biggest victim of circumstantial evidence in history, but we have not yet heard the defense’s side of the story. If things hold true, I can’t imagine a trial … maybe, it’s hard to tell with people who have nothing to loose. There will be no death penalty, because although New York has it on the books, the New York Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

Peter M. Wlasiuk, 37, Guilford, was found guilty of 2nd degree murder and given the maximum sentence of 25 years to life for allegedly murdering his wife and then staging a vehicle accident at Guilford Lake to cover it up in 2002.

The New York Supreme Court of Appeals declared Wlasiuk’s first trial unfair, citing a number of procedural shortcomings, most of them revolving around the introduction of past violent acts against his wife displayed in court and criticisms of the expert testimony given at the trial. His second trial is scheduled to begin this summer.

My Take: Honestly, I don’t want to touch this one with a 10-foot pole. One thing that is for sure, there will be a trial, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Wlasiuk is literally fighting for his life (in prison). I was not around for the first case and can’t honestly say I have had enough firsthand experience to really say anything. It will be very interesting and perhaps the most controversial of all these cases.

Tammi L. Van Deusen, 31, Norwich, won an appeal on a first degree robbery conviction due to a New York Supreme Court ruling about a technicality in her sentencing.

Upon appeal she was charged with second degree murder, first degree robbery and first degree criminal use of firearms. She helped to plan the robbery of a fellow drug dealer with four others, showed her conspirators the victim’s home and provided the firearms used in the invasion that ended up turning into a murder. She was never aware of the killing until after the fact. She was also uncooperative with investigators during the original investigation.
Denied a deal offered, right after her appeal, by the District Attorney to accept a plea bargain of 1st degree robbery and be allowed to walk free, but under supervision for the next 3 1/2 years.

She made several false statements in court and over the past 6 months in an attempt to get her record completely expunged, her defense suffered several setbacks, including contradicting facts from her first testimony and from police officers, plus a lack of any witnesses. She eventually accepted that same deal (1st degree robbery) after getting grilled by the judge over her perjury. As of two days ago, she is out of jail for the first time in nearly seven years.

My Take: The defendant made a litany of mistakes in an attempt to protect her friends, which ultimately failed. Her early decisions often got loyalty confused with integrity. She was lucky she got an appeal. She pleaded guilty and confessed to some elements of the crime at her first court appearances. Lied to court after appeal for some reason; rumors claim her desire for a civil suit if she was cleared of all charges. Eventually she did the right thing (perhaps because of a lack of options), you did the crime, accept the responsibility and now go home and please be a good mother to your kid. You received a far better deal than anyone else involved. All except one (the one who cooperated with investigators), are still in prison with many years left on their terms.

Kevin J. Begeal, 21, homeless, pleaded guilty to five counts of third degree burglary but committed more than double that number. For every dollar he stole, he caused 10 in damages. All in an effort to feed his crack addiction, his crime spree was compulsory and frighteningly bold. Also charged in Syracuse with the same kind of thing. Has a prior record of drug problems beginning as a youthful offender in Oxford and was, in fact, on parole during this crime wave. Was sentenced to 5 to 15 years for what he did in Chenango.

My Take: Yes, you do indeed have a serious drug problem, and you need help (or punishment), and far as I can tell, you’ve been offered it repeatedly. You’re an idiot, and I’m glad you’re off my street. There is a line that not even my liberal compassion will cross. This is not a one time “I screwed up” or “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.” Thus far, you have had an early, repeating and prosperous career as nothing but a criminal. Life is tough and some of us catch better breaks than others, but plenty are able to get past their demons. I’m not asking that you become a useful member of society, that’s up to you – just stop being a handicap. If this seems harsh, just remember, 3 days and 20 felonies. You’re young, there is still hope.

Jason Sherman, 24, McDonough, is charged with two counts of first degree manslaughter and second degree assault. Sherman pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Police allege Sherman caused the intentional death of his girlfriend’s 16-month-old child by striking it. The DA claims the defendant was attempting to silence the baby or discipline it, but those reports have not been confirmed. The infant showed signs of prior abuse, including a broken arm. The mother is still with Sherman, and the defense says she considers the matter an unfortunate accident and the couple still lives together. The case took months to process and much of the evidence is forensic or medical.

My Take: I think there is more to this case than meets the eye, so it’s difficult to have an informed opinion. Sherman was assigned a great lawyer and since much of the evidence is technical in nature, this is a hard one to call. The fact that the mother holds no ill-will and Sherman has no prior legal trouble also makes things difficult to gauge. Obviously though the police thought they had enough to arrest him. I can see this one going all the way to a jury trial.

Ty A. Tumminia, 14, Norwich, is charged with second-degree attempted murder for allegedly strangling his mother nearly to death. He is going to be tried as an adult.
The victim, his mother, was literally left for dead, and on all accounts her attacker thought she was dead. Prosecutors claim if police had not arrived while the boy was still in the act, she wouldn’t have survived. Allegedly this was all inspired because Tumminia was not allowed to visit his girlfriend in Iowa. It was very premeditated, planned and discussed beforehand. He allegedly attacked his mother in her sleep with a phone cord and then strangled her with his bare hands. He also confessed to the crime in police reports and the mother identified him as the attacker.

My Take: Something is not right with this kid. I have a hard time completely blaming a child for something so terrible, but this crime was very cold and brutal. I wish we knew more about other factors, such as his home life, environment and possible psychological problems. This also appears very open and shut, with the confession, him caught red-handed by two police officers and his mother identifying him. We, as a community, have to measure the weight of responsibility versus rehabilitation. Do we punish or do we offer treatment? How the family feels seems like the largest factor, because they will be absolutely instrumental in any rehabilitation. If they’re not on board, it limits options. I would like to see the kid get help, but I certainly won’t lose any sleep if he sits in jail until he’s 35.