PLATTSBURGH — With a raspy voice and jittery hands, Edward A. Dashnaw told jurors he was just a man trying to fight to save the rest of his life.
The Plattsburgh man, accused of slaying David and Lorraine Donivan of Schuyler Falls in 2005, gave his own summation in Clinton County Court Wednesday morning as his second trial for the crimes wound down.
He told the jury that the Donivans were wonderful people.
"You have heard countless amounts of evidence ... to say I did this," he told them. "But, I didn't do this."
Later in the day, District Attorney Andrew Wylie went through the evidence, detailing a time line that he says shows Dashnaw did kill the Donivans.
Dashnaw said that neither John Ellis, to whom Dashnaw had delivered furniture from the Donivans' House of Pine and Oak on Dec. 24, 2005, nor Corey Desso, who had helped deliver the furniture, said anything about seeing Dashnaw with an injured face or hand.
"They saw no knife wounds on my hands."
He said the evidence said there had been some type of fight, but he told jurors the prosecution evidence was "contradictory."
He showed the panel a picture in which investigators were not wearing protective gear and said they testified that they had.
He questioned how, if he had had a cut on his hand, no blood showed up on anything in the home.
"It's not physically possible," he told jurors. "Out of all the evidence, is there one pin-drop? No, there's not."
Dashnaw then questioned why the prosecution and investigators had not focused on "the biggest piece of evidence," the warehouse door with the bloodstain on it.
He launched into a series of comments about the footprint found in the garage and how no footwear had been confiscated.
"They tore apart my house, my family's house, looking for evidence," he told them.
How, he said, could they have missed looking for a shoe to match the print?
"To say you forget to grab a piece of evidence? I can't understand it."
Dashnaw spoke again of the lack of blood spots in the house, asking how someone could wrap up a body in a huge comforter — referring to Mr. Donivan — and not get blood on it if that person had a cut on his hand.
"Did I actually touch it? Did I actually do that? It tells me no. It should tell you no."
'DOESN'T MAKE SENSE'
Dashnaw said police claimed he went to such an extent to hide Mr. Donivan's body then took items out of his wallet and threw them away in his own garbage.
"It doesn't make sense."
He told jurors police didn't know what knife was used and questioned why the Ridge-Runner knife box was brought in as evidence.
Dashnaw then brought up one of the notes found on the warehouse door when he and Corey Desso went to deliver furniture.
"I was told to write what I did," he told jurors.
Dashnaw said Desso also testified that he (Dashnaw) called his wife while on their way back from the delivery.
"Check phone records. That call never existed."
As Dashnaw's argument neared its end, he spoke about his body size and how improbable it was that he could have moved Mr. Donivan's body to the basement.
"Imagine what it would take to carry him. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but he was a big boy."
"Two wonderful people ... were taken from the area in a brutal way," Dashnaw told jurors as he wrapped up his speech. "I only ask that you take this time to draw rational conclusions."
Wylie made various objections throughout Dashnaw's hour-long summation. Some were sustained, but Clinton County Judge Patrick McGill told Wylie he would have his chance to address others during his own summation.
'JUST AND FAIR VERDICT'
In his closing argument, Wylie told jurors he would go through the facts of the case with them.
After speaking of the charges Dashnaw faces, the district attorney told jurors, "There's been very little evidence that the defendant knew (Mr. and Mrs.) Donivan."
Wylie said the prosecution never argued that Dashnaw killed them for their belongings or money but alleged that once Dashnaw did so, he went "out with a bang," by using their credit cards and truck, cashing checks and taking property.
"What I'm going to ask you to do is make a just and fair verdict."
Wylie said no one witnessed the stabbings; that was why they "needed to bring in circumstantial evidence."
Wylie gave the time line shown through the testimonies, beginning on Dec. 18, 2005, urging jurors to judge the credibility of each witness.
His time line was shown on the large screen. Dashnaw objected to its use, but McGill allowed it.
On Dec. 18, 2005, Wylie said, Desso had coffee with Mrs. Donivan to discuss the day's deliveries.
Wylie reminded jurors that both Desso and Troy LaPoint said in their testimonies that Mrs. Donivan always made prearrangements for deliveries, handwrote everything and always paid in cash.
Wylie listed three confirmed places the Donivans were on Dec. 20, 2005, the last day they were seen alive.
He said a gas receipt from that evening was found later in a vehicle at Dashnaw's Quarry Road residence.
Early in the morning of Dec. 21, Wylie said, a purchase was made with a Donivan credit card.
"This is the first occasion that the defendant had (Mr. Donivan's) Toyota pickup truck."
Wylie then ran through a series of purchases that were made with the credit card, a Staples receipt found in the van at the Quarry Road residence and a surveillance still photo of Dashnaw at a Best Buy.
He showed a signature on one receipt for cigarettes at a Vermont variety store.
"You see here, he starting signing with an 'E,'" Wylie said, as he pointed to a scribbled signature, as if Dashnaw had begun writing his own name, Edward.
GOOD, BAD PLANS
Wylie showed a series of photos from Dec. 22, 2005, of Dashnaw in white coveralls and also of the Toyota Tundra entering and leaving the Grand Isle, Vt., ferry parking lot.
"This isn't joy riding," he told jurors.
Wylie placed Desso at the House of Pine and Oak on Dec. 24, where Dashnaw told him there was a note from the Donivans, but Dashnaw couldn't produce the note. Desso said the delivery truck was filled with furniture.
"I submit to you ... the defendant was planning on taking that furniture," Wylie said.
Chuckling, the district attorney said Dec. 27 was the day someone identifying himself as "Joe" called Heritage Automotive to have the truck picked up. The phone records of Heritage employee Leisl Fox reflect that call.
Wylie said that, on Dec. 29, LaPoint entered the Donivans' house after getting concerned calls from out-of-town family, saw the carpet missing and contacted the police.
Wylie then went through each claim Dashnaw made to police and refuted each with a piece of evidence.
"Good plans, bad plans don't always go the way we expect them," Wylie noted.
He then said to put on the record that Dashnaw thought that last comment was funny.
CHARGES TO COME
On Dec. 30, 2005, Wylie told jurors, the truck was found with wiped handles.
"Does a person joy riding in a motor vehicle do that? I submit they don't."
During Dashnaw's summation on Wednesday morning, he had questioned how a Band-Aid found in the Donivans' warehouse had been handled by investigators.
Wylie responded in his summation, saying that, when the Band-Aid was found near Mrs. Donivan's body, they secured it immediately so it would not get accidently moved. He said analysis proved the blood on the Band-Aid was Dashnaw's.
Wylie verified the day the search was executed on the Quarry Road residence, where numerous items of the Donivans' were found, including checkbooks and a photograph of them torn into quarters.
"I'm going to ask that you put that picture back together, put that family back together," Wylie told jurors.
McGill told jurors he would read the charges Thursday morning, which would take around an hour and a half, after which they would begin their deliberations.
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