Appeals Court upholds conviction of murderer - Press-Republican: Local News

Appeals Court upholds conviction of murderer

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Posted: Saturday, April 19, 2014 3:28 am

PLATTSBURGH — An appeals court upheld the conviction of Edward A. Dashnaw for the double murders of David and Lorraine Donivan.

The deaths of the popular Schuyler Falls business owners in December 2005 had shocked the North Country.

Dashnaw, 45, appealed his conviction to the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division after his 2011 retrial.

He was found guilty then of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, all felonies, and three counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.

FIRST CONVICTION OVERTURNED

The Plattsburgh man had first gone to the trial for the double slaying in 2007 and was found guilty.

But he was granted the second trial after an appeals court in 2011 reversed that conviction.

The court found certain incriminating statements that Dashnaw made to police should not have been used as evidence in his original trial because they were made early on in the investigation without an attorney present.

Dashnaw’s first trial was the longest in Clinton County history, lasting almost three months.

He has consistently stated that he is innocent of the crimes.

’OVERWHELMING PROOF’

In the midst of his retrial, Dashnaw decided to serve as his own attorney.

In his most recent appeal, Dashnaw, represented by attorney Mitch Kessler, claimed that he was wrongly convicted in the second trial based on lack of evidence, an unfair trial and ineffective assistance of counsel.

During oral arguments before the Appellate Division, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie argued that the jury had returned a guilty verdict after a fair trial that conformed to all constitutionally guaranteed rights.

After the review of motions and oral arguments, the Appellate Division affirmed the conviction in its entirety, according to a news release from the DA’s Office.

”We find that there is overwhelming proof to establish the defendant as the perpetrator of the charged crimes,” the justices ruled.

The court ruled that Dashnaw received effective assistance of counsel and that the trial court satisfied all constitutional safeguards regarding the right to counsel when it cautioned him about acting as his own attorney in the middle of the trial.

’APPEALS COMPLEX’

”I am very pleased that the Appellate Division affirmed this conviction,” Wylie said in a statement. “Hopefully, this ruling offers the Donivan family further peace and closure on such a painful and tragic event.

”This was a lengthy and complicated trial, which took its toll on the family, and, unfortunately, the appeals process can be equally as difficult.

”After convictions, it is my office’s duty to protect our verdicts through a complex appeals process.

”I want to personally thank Karen McGee and Marlene Tuczinski, staff attorneys at the New York State Prosecutor’s Training Institute, for their invaluable assistance in handling this very important appeal,” Wylie added.

Dashnaw was sentenced to serve life without parole for his crimes.

STABBED MANY TIMES

The Donivans had owned the House of Pine furniture store in Schuyler Falls, residing on the same property.

Dashnaw had done odd jobs for them, and they had hired him to deliver some furniture that December in 2005. 

Family raised the alarm after they couldn’t reach the couple, and police dispatched to their home found 30 messages from friends, family and customers left unanswered on their answering machine.

Police located Mr. Donivan’s body in the basement of his store; an autopsy showed evidence of 32 stab wounds.

Two days later, they found Mrs. Donivan’s body wrapped in a blanket and hidden in the loft area of the store’s warehouse. She had been stabbed 10 times.

The evidence against Dashnaw mounted through an extensive investigation, revealing he had stolen the couple’s personal checks and credit cards, using them to buy Christmas presents for his children. He had also taken Mr. Donivan’s pickup truck.

Evidence at the Donivans’ store and home also contributed to the effort that saw Dashnaw convicted. 

He is incarcerated at Greenhaven Correctional in Duchess County.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg