After three days of testimony, attorneys made their closing arguments in the Matthew Taranto murder trial. Taranto has admitted to shooting his father in their Trumansburg home, but claims it was self defense. Tamara Lindstrom has been following the trial and has more.
TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- The fate of 29-year-old murder defendant Matthew Taranto comes down to one question: Did he believe his life was in imminent danger when he pointed a Walther PPK handgun at his father and pulled the trigger seven times?
The Trumansburg man has admitted to shooting his father, Sal Taranto, to death in November of 2010, in the basement of the family's home.
The defense claims Taranto, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder, feared for his life after his father threatened Matthew with a knife and a gun.
On Friday, defense attorney Scott Miller argued Sal Taranto was on a rampage the entire day up to the shooting. Miller pointed to expert testimony by forensic psychologist Charles Ewing, who said Taranto suffers from 'battered child syndrome" and felt his life was in imminent danger.
The witness said Matthew Taranto functions at the level of a ten-year-old and that Matthew and his mother experienced years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the victim. Ewing said he believed Matthew was telling the truth when he described the events that led up to the shooting.
But the prosecution questioned Matthew Taranto's credibility, doubting that he feared for his life and asking why he didn't just leave the house. Assistant District Attorney Andrew Bonavia pointed out that Sal Taranto was sitting in a chair, unarmed, when Matthew began shooting. Bonavia asked the judge to disregard the psychologist's testimony because it was not videotaped or tape recorded for the prosecution to review.
Whether or not Matthew Taranto believed his life was in imminent danger the night he shot his father is now up to Judge Judith A. Rossiter to decide. When that verdict will come in, we don't yet know. The judge said there won't be any undue delays, but she has plenty of evidence to wade through.