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Stuyvesant home invasion trial begins

Miguel Alcarez

Miguel Alcarez

Miguel Alcarez

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 12:30 am

By Arthur Cusano Columbia-Greene Media |5 comments

The Columbia County Court trial of one of the suspects charged in a home invasion the night of the TCI fire in August 2012 began Tuesday afternoon after more than a day of jury selection.

The trial of Miguel Alcarez, 21, began at the A.B. Shaw Fire Company station in Claverack after Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek briefed the selected jury on its responsibilities.

The 14-member jury, including two alternates, consisted of six males and eight females, all white and most if not all over the age of 40. Jury selection began early Monday morning and did not wrap up until around noon Tuesday.

Alcarez, along with Frederick W. Williams, 23; Jeremy T. Cobbins, 24; Joseph A. Speed, 26; and Bobby C. Smith, 20, all of Hudson, were charged Aug. 2, 2012 with first-degree burglary, a class B felony, and remanded to the Columbia County Jail and held without bail. Williams was additionally charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, a class D felony, for allegedly attempting to run over a Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy responding to the scene with the vehicle he was driving.

Assistant District Attorney David Costanza’s opening remarks included a synopsis of what he alleges happened in the early morning hours of Aug. 2, when he said four men broke into Desiree Graziano’s home at 11 Route 25A in Stuyvesant Falls. Graziano was home with some friends and her son at the time, he said.

“The men stormed into her house with masks and latex groves on their hands,” Costanza said. “They ripped her son out of bed and ransacked the house.”

There was force involved in the invasion, Costanza told the jury, and the defendants tied up the victims with duct tape and used a knife and chisel to steal property.

Graziano called 911 when the men arrived. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the home and scouted the front and back entrances. The suspects ran out of the front door of the house and left the area in a white Ford Explorer SUV with the deputies in pursuit. State police, who were also called to the scene, saw the men in the vehicle as they crossed a bridge near the residence and began pursuing them, Costanza said.

The men were later found hiding in areas south of Graziano’s home on 9H in Ghent after fleeing their vehicle on foot when the vehicle got stuck in a pond. Alcarez was allegedly found hiding in cattails near the crash site, Costanza said. The men are suspected of throwing evidence, including latex gloves and a bandanna, out of the SUV’s window, which was later recovered by state police.

Alcarez’s attorney Michael Howard painted a different picture of the crime scene, saying the property located at 11 Route 25A was a site used for buying, selling and using illegal drugs.

“This house had scales, safes, drug paraphernalia all throughout it,” Howard told jurors.

Police were aware of the illegal activity at the home after a reported burglary at the residence in January 2012, Howard argued.

Howard also alleged Deputy Kris Bauhoff fired a gunshot at the SUV, hitting the wheel well, without just cause as it was leaving the scene.

Howard accused state police of taking Alcarez into custody and detaining him at the scene for 30 minutes before being taken to the state police barracks, which he argued was also illegal.

He also argued that since there is no proof that weapons were involved in the incident, the charge of first-degree burglary, a class B violent felony, should be thrown out.

Witnesses called in the first day included New York State Police Troopers Eric Harris and Douglas Colwell and New York State Police Sgt. John LaPlante, as well as fellow defendant Williams’ ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his two children.

The ex-girlfriend said Alcarez was a friend of Williams and identified the vehicle used in the alleged crime as belonging to her and Williams.

The trial is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.