It’s nearly that time when the reporters at the Evening Sun start to round up out most acclaimed stories of 2009. Looking back on the crime and fire beat I found no shortage of candidates. With a number of drug busts, murder arrest and conviction, fires and fatal accidents I was feeling like a varsity foot ball coach trying to make cuts during the pre-season. More than just the mayhem is also considered- things like community programs with large impacts, big business news and political changes are important too.
My “top” stories now picked I had a handful of runner-ups I thought deserved at least an honorable blog mention but after reviewing the list it seemed a little depressing so instead I thought I’d include the most amusing stories of 2009 I wrote instead. You may find them entertaining (unless you happen to be in them) but over all they aren’t of any great significance.
Man who shoots two people apologizes to the court but not the victims
A man arrested for firing his shotgun at two others during an alcohol-fueled dispute pleaded guilty to an endangerment felony in court June 22 and was sentenced to one year in local jail.
Lee M. Bush, 49, of the City of Norwich, pleaded guilty to shooting at two men outside of his 29 Court St. apartment with a shotgun last September following an escalating argument that allegedly began over money and cocaine.
The two victims in the crime both of Norwich, were hit as they fled Bush’s residence at around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 5, suffering pellet wounds to their legs, back and arms. None of the injuries were life threatening.
At the sentencing, defense attorney Aaron A. Dean reiterated Bush’s story that Squires and Infante were “two drug miscreants” who had “threatened my client after they assaulted his girlfriend.”
“What happened, happened,” Bush told Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd, accepting his role in the incident and apologizing to the court for his conduct. He did not, however, directly apologize for his actions against the two men – a point Dean noted in his remarks.
“There were a lot of circumstances involved that the average person isn’t aware of on the street. Basically there were some legitimate issues of justification,” said Dean, referring to the reasons his client fired.
Dean also noted one of the men didn’t seek medical attention following the incident.
“Mr. Bush maintains his position that he shot in the direction of the two men, and not at them. It is basically our position that the direct fire ricocheted off the driveway and then struck the men,” said Dean.
Bush pleaded guilty to first degree reckless endangerment, a D class felony carrying a possible sentence of two and a third to seven years in state prison.
Dowd sentenced Bush to one year in local jail with time already served, saying it was an agreed upon disposition between the DA and the defense. Bush, who has been incarcerated at the Chenango County Correctional Facility since the incident, was released on good behavior by the Sheriff’s Office, having served eight months of the one year sentence.
Both victims in the case have since been arrested on different crimes and sent to jail themselves.
– – –
Drugs by mail and the interest of bail
A Norwich man who allegedly had about $15,000 worth of marijuana mailed to him from a Texas border town had his bail reduced to $1,000 after his lawyer complained that credit card interest rates were wreaking havoc on his client’s finances.
52-year-old Carl Smith Jr. was charged with second degree possession of marijuana and third degree conspiracy, both felonies. He was also charged with unlawful growing of marijuana and fourth degree possession of a weapon, misdemeanors.
On July 9, the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced they had intercepted 10 pounds of marijuana in a postal package mailed from Donna, Texas, to Smith’s home on County Rt. 34 in the Town of Norwich.
Smith was originally remanded to the Chenango County Correctional Facility on $8,000 bail, which his lawyer, Frederick Meagher Jr., said he paid with a friend’s credit card.
Meagher asked the bail to be excused, explaining that the credit card demanded a $700 surcharge for it to be used in the correctional system and had a interest rate of around 29 percent.
District Attorney Joseph A. McBride asked that the bail remain at $8,000, noting the value of the seized drugs and cash was double that amount.
The judge lowered the bail to $1,000.
In addition to the approximate 10 pounds of marijuana, police discovered eight marijuana plants in Smith’s back yard, two small bags of marijuana, a loaded .22 caliber rifle, and an illegal “black jack” weapon. They also uncovered several assorted marijuana pipes and paraphernalia following the month-long investigation by Sheriff’s Office, DEA and Postal Service.
– – –
Truck loaded with dead animals hits house
A delivery truck carrying a load of animal carcasses to a processing plant in Utica lost control in the rain Oct. 28 and careened into a town of Norwich home, injuring the driver.
The unoccupied trailer, located at 1011 along County Road 34, also suffered damage in the impact and left a gaping hole in the structure’s wall, exposing the interior to the elements.
The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office reported that the truck’s driver, 50-year-old Joseph Dimasse of Utica, was taken by the South New Berlin Fire Department’s ambulance to Chenango Memorial Hospital with minor chest and neck pains.
Neighbors at the scene said the home belonged to the Gross family. It was not immediately known how many occupants resided at the trailer or what arrangements were being made to aid them.
Police said the truck was traveling east, down an incline on Burdick-Medbury Road, at about 10:24 a.m. when the driver allegedly lost control of his brakes. The driver was unable to stop the vehicle while attempting to turn left on to County Road 34 and passed through the Burdick-Medbury Road stop sign.
The home was located just to the left of the T-intersection. The truck smashed through a small porch, bushes and the mail box before striking the trailer at about a 45 degree angle, nearly dead center.
At the time of the accident, a steady rain was pelting the area and the road surface was wet. Sheriff’s deputies ticketed Dimasse for inadequate braking.
At the scene, a strong odor of rotting flesh could be detected and police opened the delivery truck’s rear storage area. They discovered more than a dozen 55-gallon drums of discarded animal remains jarred open and thrown around inside as a result of the collision.
Police said the truck was on its way to a Utica pet food plant for processing and the parts were most likley collected from area butchers and sportsmen.
– – –
Burglar only interested in the underwear
A man stood in Chenango County Supreme Court Sept. 23 and said he was motivated to commit burglaries over his desire to steal woman’s lingerie.
Twenty-year-old Paul J. Hendrickson, homeless, but formerly of the Maple Grove Trailer Park in Norwich, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second degree burglary after admitting he entered the home of a woman living in his neighborhood for the sole reason of stealing her, or her children’s, underwear.
Although allowed to plead to the technicality of attempted burglary, Hendrickson told the court he successfully broke-in and entered on at least on occasion, removing articles of intimate clothing from the victim’s laundry.
Chenango County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Richard Cobb said police later “recovered approximately two dozen articles of women’s undergarments that had been stolen from the victims.”
In the plea arrangement with the District Attorney’s Office, Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd sentenced Hendrickson to two years in state prison and three years of post-release supervision for each of the charges, to be served simultaneously. Hendrickson was also ordered to pay more than $1,400 in fees and surcharges and must now register as a sex offender for no less than 20 years.
One of the victims who appeared in the courtroom to watch Hendrickson’s sentencing said she has three daughters, ages, 10, 13 and 19, who were also victims of the crime.
In conducting his guilty plea, Dowd asked Hendrickson’s public defender, Alan Gordon, to properly execute the plea allocution of the charges before he would accept the terms of the agreement.
“Did you attempt to break into the home?” Gordon asked his client. “Yes sir,” said Hendrickson.
“And with the intent to steal woman’s underwear?”
“Yes sir,” again replied the defendant.
Gordon said because the felony was a sexually-motivated crime, his client would have to become a registered sex offender.
– – –
The real life Hamburglar
Just over eight hours after police responded to the scene of a burglary at the Norwich McDonald’s Jan. 27, they arrested a 17-year-old Norwich youth for the crime.
David D. Brunell, of County Road 47 in Norwich, was charged with felony third degree burglary and two misdemeanors – fourth degree criminal mischief and petit larceny. Police said they identified the suspect caught in the store’s surveillance videos as Brunell by noon and arrested him at 3:30 p.m. after a brief search.
He allegedly broke into the Norwich McDonald’s at around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after using a park bench to shatter the drive-through window. Police said Brunell then tried to crawl in through the small window, but was forced to make a second attempt after being injured on the broken glass. The teen managed to crawl through the opening and was caught on the security surveillance system, dangling from the window by his sneaker at one point and later eating hamburger buns as he rummaged through the fast food restaurant.
Police also said Brunell failed in his attempts to force open the business’ safe and cash registers, leaving bloody fingerprints at the scene as a result of his injuries.
Norwich Police Chief Joseph Angelino said that after his arrest, Brunell confirmed investigator’s suspicious that he was under the influence of illegal substances at the time of the incident.
“He could be seen staggering around in the surveillance video,” said the chief. Police said they were able to make such a speedy arrest thanks in part to the store’s security system.
Angelino said he wasn’t sure of a motive for the crime, but said the teen’s “thinking processes were probably hampered by illegal substances.”