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April 13, 2008

The trial of Robert Garrow Sr.

LAKE PLEASANT -- Robert Garrow went on trial for murder nine months after his capture in the largest manhunt in New York history.

The courtroom drama started in June 1974 lasted 15 days and ended with a guilty verdict.

Garrow was convicted of the murder of Phillip Domblewski, 19, a Schenectady man who had been camping with friends in the Town of Wells in Hamilton County.

He later pleaded guilty to killing hikers Susan Petz and Donald Porter, along with a young hitchhiker, Alicia Hauck, in Syracuse, Onondaga County.

Hamilton County Judge George Marthen, now deceased, presided at the trial, and the district attorney was William Intemann.

Garrow's attorneys were Frank Armani and Francis Belge, appointed as public defenders. Belge has since died.

METHODICAL MURDER

At the trial, the jury disregarded an insanity defense because Garrow had so methodically stabbed Domblewski. The prosecution introduced evidence that an insane killer stabs randomly, not in a neat row as Garrow had done.

At trial, the alleged murderer hid his face in his hands or with a newspaper; jurors saw only the top of his head.

On July 1, 1974, Marthen sentenced Garrow to serve 25 years to life for killing Domblewski.

Before the trial, Armani and Belge had tried to negotiate a plea deal for their client by trading the location of Susan Petz's body, using the attorney-client privileged information Garrow had given them.

The idea failed, and her badly decomposed body was found without their help in a mine shaft in Mineville in December 1973.

TROUBLED YOUTH

Garrow was born in 1936 to Robert and Marguerite Garrow, who lived in Mineville, a hamlet in the Town of Moriah. His mother made him wear his sister's clothes to humiliate him, and his father, a miner for what became the Republic Steel iron mines in the town, beat him. He eventually smashed his father's face in a fight and was committed to the Rochester State Industrial School, a home for troubled youths.

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