Updated 02/09/2011 05:51 AM
Trumansburg man pleads not guilty to murdering father
A Trumansburg man accused of killing his father is arraigned on murder charges. Our Tamara Lindstrom was in the courtroom. She tells us why the 28-year-old entered a plea of not guilty.
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TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Two months after the shooting that left his father dead, Matthew Taranto is led into the Tompkins County courthouse.
"The defendant is charged with one count of murder second, intentional murder," said District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson.
Prosecutors say the 28-year-old shot his father several times in the torso in the basement of their Trumansburg home. After crawling to a neighbor's house for help on the evening of November 30, Sal Taranto died of his wounds. The son admits to pulling the trigger, but on Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
"Over the last 15 years in defending criminal cases, I would say that this is the most unique homicide case that I've come across in that more than one defense, at this point, appears to be applicable," said defense attorney Scott Miller.
The defense says Taranto may have a diminished capacity.
"My client suffers from Asperger's syndrome as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder," Miller said.
And that he may have suffered abuse at the hands of his father up to the day of the shooting.
"There does appear to be evidence that Matthew was threatened with a knife and a gun," Miller said.
"I don't like to comment on the evidence in the case," Wilkinson said." There has been statements taken from various people and we're going to sort that all out."
Taranto's attorney said his client is competent to stand trial and will assist in his own defense. Meanwhile, he plans to ask the judge to grant Taranto bail, a move the prosecution plans to protest.
"The risk of flight under circumstances like this with such a serious charge, with such a potentially long sentence, we would argue that there is a flight risk and that bail should be denied," Wilkinson said.
His mother sat in the courtroom behind Taranto and the defense said she hoped to look after him until the trial. For now, he will stay in the Tompkins County Jail.
The trial is tentatively scheduled for July. Both sides are expected to call expert witnesses, including medical professionals who have treated Taranto in the past.