Rockland Community College’s main and Haverstraw campuses will be closing at 1:00 PM today.
Lacey Spears, former Chestnut Ridge resident on trial for the death of her 5 year-old son, has been convicted of second-degree murder. Jurors convened this morning and delivered their verdict a little after noon today after deliberating all of last Friday as well as Thursday evening. It appeared jurors were leaning toward this charge over the first-degree manslaughter charge when they had asked the judge to define “depraved indifference” last Friday, an element of second-degree murder under the New York Penal code. Evidence and testimony from medical personnel asserted the only explanation for the high sodium level that ultimately caused Garnett’s death was forcing salt through his feeding tube. Prosecutors had argued that Spears and did it for attention, and called it “nothing short of torture.” Prosecutors chose not to pursue a case based on Spears suffering from munchhausen by proxy, a rare psychological disorder in which parents intentional harm their children for the attention, believing the evidence was strong enough to stand alone. In a press conference after the conclusion of trial, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said her confidence was high that that when defense appeals, the conviction would be upheld. She also stated that her office would ask for the maximum penalty of 25 years to life. Spears’ sentencing is set for April 8th.
A jury is set to continue deliberations today after sitting in discussion all day on Friday, asking to see evidence and testimonies once more in the case against former Chestnut Ridge mother Lacey Spears who is accused of killing her son with fatal levels of sodium in January 2014. The jury began deliberating the case on Thursday and continued Friday, watching video evidence brought forward by the prosecution, which shows Spears and her five-year old son Garnett head into the bathroom and soon after the young boy getting visibly sick in his hospital room. The jury spent most time with the video, but also referenced charts of sodium, and testimony by a friend of Spears. Jurors also asked the judge for a definition of “reckless and depraved indifference”. Spears is waiting for the jury’s decision on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.
Lawyers completed their closing arguments to the court on Thursday in the case against former Chestnut Ridge mother Lacey Spears who is accused of killing her son Garnett in January of last year. Prosecutors stated at the trial’s final hearing that the 27-year old mother had been poisoning her five-year old son with sodium through his feeding tube to make him sick, before he succumbed to fatal doses during a hospital stay. Prosecutors claim that Spears had time to poison her son during a bathroom break before his health began to decline, and an empty feeding bag tested positive for high levels of sodium. Spears’ attorneys blamed Nyack Hospital for not keeping up with the young boy’s dehydration, before he was transferred to Westchester Medical Center. Defense Attorney Stephen Reibling also argued that there is not enough clear evidence for a jury to find his client guilty, stating that the case is circumstantial. The jury began deliberating the case and will continue to do so today at 10:00 AM.
According to recent reports by the Journal News, the former principal of the Hilltop School in Haverstraw, Kimberly Taylor, was moved to a new position as administrator within the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, with responsibilities including reviewing student assessments and organizing summer schools. Taylor and the BOSCES district are defendants in a lawsuit filed by former aid Kenneth Egan, who claims the district fired him when he came forward with accusations of abuse. Egan had recorded audio of what he states is Taylor screaming at children in June 2011 and calling them names such as retarded. Superintendent of BOSCES Mary Jean Marsico stated to the news outlet that Taylor had requested a new position after the lawsuit and the transfer was rushed during the recent news rushed during the recent news stories on the situation. Psychologist Christine Ditrano was appointed as the new principal and will start this coming Monday. Marsico stated that the decision to rush the transfer of positions was to, “get some consistency in the building.”
Closing arguments were heard this afternoon in the Lacey Spears trial, first by defense attorney Stephen Riebling who had a daunting task for his client because she did not testify. Riebling’s summation, before a court room of more than 45 people, went on for over two hours where he blamed Nyack Hospital and painted Spears as an attentive, loving mother. Riebling emphasized that the jury look only at the facts presented and to put aside any emotion tied to the case. The case is, “riddled with reasonable doubt,” as he outlined the lack of evidence put forth by the prosecution for the actual act of poisoning as well as a lack of motive and that the hospital was to blame for Garnett not receiving the IV fluids he needed. Though videos were shown of the suffering of Garnett, Riebling noted that footage of Spears comforting her son were omitted. He further defended Spears’ internet search history saying hypernatremia was not a new condition Garnett suffered from, citing that it began when he was a baby. The prosecution is set to complete their closing arguments this afternoon with the judge ordering the jury soon after.
Officials reported a fire early this morning at a home on Park Ave in Airmont. Firefighters from the Monsey, South Spring Valley and Hillcrest departments responded to a call from Ramapo Police around 2:00 Thursday morning that the home was engulfed in flames, and spent several hours into the morning attempting to put them out. Orange and Rockland crews were also on the scene to shut off the gas, which police stated was helping to spread the fire throughout the house. All those in the home were able to get out before the fire spread, but the house was completely destroyed by the blaze.
In a unified front against the implementation of a bike path beside the bridge, residents met last night inside the Living Christ Church in Nyack for the Nyack Village Board. They rallied against the plan for the $10 million path set to end in a residential neighborhood. More than 20 people stood at the podium to state their case and propose staging public opposition such as protests and bus trips to Albany, all to make lawmakers and the Thruway Authority aware of the unwelcome changes. At the heart of the debate is the added traffic congestion and new construction that are inevitable consequences due to this new tourist attraction. Thruway Authority Officials estimate up to 473 visitors every hour during peak times which will require 151 news parking spaces in both counties. More meetings by the Thruway Authority are expected in March to further gauge feedback on the project before any decisions are made.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey held a press conference at the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack on Monday afternoon, in the wake of a potential loss of funding for the Department of homeland Security. Lowey stated that the decision made by House and Senate Republicans to approve only temporary funding for the DHS, in an attempt to stop the President’s immigration policies would hurt Rockland County in several ways. The county receives various grants equaling more than $1 million that provide resources for emergency situations, including the measures to fight the fears of terrorist actions against shopping malls throughout the country after the recent threat against the Mall of America, and with the department’s approved funding ending on February 27, these grants could fall through. Lowey and a group of 192 cosponsors have introduces a bill that would allow the DHS to obtain a full year of funding, does not include immigration issues, and would ensure funding for communities throughout New York. Another fear that was discussed at the conference was the dangers presented by train cars that transport crude oil on railways through Rockland County. The resources used by the County Sheriff’s Department to prevent accidents happening on the railroads are also in jeopardy with the potential shutdown, such as equipment and emergency drills used to prepare officers. Lowey stated, “Recent and very public rail accidents have highlighted how an inadequate homeland security funding bill would have serious consequences for our local emergency personnel… It is time to end this charade and pass the clean DHS funding bill.”
Firefighters responded to a call in Upper Grandview on Friday to find a home in flames. Around 1:00 PM neighbors reported that the fire on Route 9W was spreading quickly through the home. According to officials when they entered the home they found nearly $30,000 books stacked against the walls, blocking doors and windows. The books belonged to the owner of the home, Fred Rosselot, who collected and sold rare books. The 82-year old man was injured in the blaze, officials reporting that he was taken to Nyack Hospital for treatment to burns and smoke inhalation. The fire took hours to be put out completely, due to the slope of the hill the house was built on and the freezing weather and ice, as well as the extent that the flames spread through the old books. Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire and it appears the home did not have a working smoke detector. Rosselot was provided temporary housing and neighbors have started a Fundrazr page online to help collect money for the man.