Pascarella murder retrial set to start
First trial of Clintondale man charged with killing his father ended in hung jury
KINGSTON, N.Y. >> A jury has been seated, but two alternates must still be selected, for the retrial of a Clintondale, N.Y., man charged with beating his father to death outside the older man’s Marlboro home in December 2014.
A jury of eight men and four women was chosen Monday for the murder trial of Nicholas Pascarella Jr. in Ulster County Court. County Judge Donald A. Williams said he expected two alternates to be chosen Tuesday morning and that the trial would likely conclude by Oct. 12.
Pascarella’s original trial for second-degree murder, held this past spring, ended with a hung jury. That jury deliberated for five days before declaring an “absolute deadlock,” leading Williams to declare a mistrial on April 8.
Pascarella, 41, admitted killing his father, Nicholas Sr., 67, with a baseball bat on Dec. 27, 2014, saying he did so because the older man sex-
ually abused both him and his young son.
In the process of selecting the jury Monday, Ulster County Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Kavanagh told the potential jurors they would be dealing with intense subject matter that may include allegations of child sexual abuse. He questioned the potential jurors about whether they could put aside their emotions. Kavanagh also asked whether they could put their sympathy aside if Pascarella’s attorneys were to offer a defense of “extreme emotional disturbance.”
“You’re going to be asked, generally speaking, to sit in judgment of another human being,” Kavanagh said.
Williams said the issue of extreme emotional disturbance would come into question if the jury were to find that Pascarella had, beyond a reasonable doubt, caused his father’s death and had meant to do so. He said if the jury did accept that defense, the murder charge would be reduced to manslaughter.
Ulster County Assistant Public Defender MariAnn Connolly asked the potential jurors if they thought they were strong enough to stand alone if their opinion differed from that of other jurors after hearing the testimony and carefully considering the matter. She also asked the potential jurors to assure her they would not hold it against Pascarella if he did not testify on his own behalf.
“The stakes are incredibly high,” Connolly said. “It’s a murder case.”
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Firstdegree manslaughter is punishable by a fixed sentence of anywhere from five to 25 years in prison.
The jury was selected after Williams and the attorneys questioned two panels made up of 21 potential jurors each. Toward the end of Monday’s day-long proceedings, one of the remaining potential jurors yawned loudly from the audience, disrupting the questioning of the second panel.
Williams chastised the jurors, stating that he had attempted to relax them, “but there’s nothing boring about this case.”