Murder trial to begin

Gustavo Segundo-Clark

PLATTSBURGH — Both the prosecution and defense were confident in their cases as the trial of Gustavo Segundo-Clark began with opening statements and witness interviews Wednesday.

Segundo-Clark, 25, of Beekmantown, is accused of stabbing his grandmother, Ginger Clark, to death with a kitchen knife last November before stealing her credit card and 2010 Subaru Forester.

He is being tried for charges of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, third-degree grand larceny in connection with the theft of the car, fourth-degree grand larceny in connection with the theft of the credit card and third-degree possession of a weapon, all felonies, as well as tampering with physical evidence, a misdemeanor.

STARTING THE PUZZLE

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie’s opening statement on behalf of the prosecution focused heavily on creating a clear and easy-to-follow timeline of witness statements and evidence for the jury that will prove Segundo-Clark’s part in Clark’s death.

“The opening statement is to basically give you an outline of the case,” Wylie said to the jury. “(That) can to some extent be referred to as a puzzle, and when I do a puzzle, I’d get the four corners, the borders, and then I’d start filling in the rest.”

Wylie was confident that upon seeing all the evidence, including witness statements, autopsy findings, interviews with the defendant from the investigation and more, that the jury would have no choice but to find Segundo-Clark guilty.

Segundo-Clark’s defense attorney, Joseph Mucia, was also confident: confident that the jury would rule the other way.

“The job of the prosecution is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty,” Mucia said. “I’m confident that after the evidence is presented and you hear the witnesses, you will find the defendant not guilty.”

Segundo-Clark was present in the courtroom Wednesday in a black suit.

WITNESSES TAKE STAND

Witness statements followed at roughly 1:30 p.m., with seven of the prosecution’s witnesses interviewed by Wylie and Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Stitt before court recessed until the next morning.

The questions primarily pertained to establishing a timeline of Nov. 20 and Nov. 22, 2018, the days that Clark is believed to have been killed and when her body was found, respectively.

Among them was Clark’s nephew-in-law Sylvester Watson, who allegedly discovered the body after his wife, Carrie, had him check on Clark; Judy Relation, Clark’s sister-in-law who called in the discovery to Clinton County Dispatch; Priscilla Alban, the dispatcher who took the call and State Trooper Jamie Coupal, the first officer to arrive at the crime scene the day the body was found.

According to witness statements, Carrie Watson had Sylvester check on Clark at 111 Rooney Rd. on the morning of Nov. 22, at which point he knocked on the back door before coming around to a glass door.

“I saw two legs and a lot of blood,” Sylvester said.

'SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED'

After Sylvester told Carrie of what he saw, she was allegedly too nervous to complete the 911 call, leading to Relation calling in the incident.

Just before 8:30 a.m., Relation called.

“I told the 911 operator that something had happened to my sister-in-law,” Relation said.

Alban, the operator that Relation was speaking to, noted that Relation initially was unsure of Clark’s address, saying that it could be 100 Rooney Road or 111, a kind of slip of the mind that Alban said she was used to when talking to nervous people making 911 calls.

BODY WRAPPED

Alban was able to get Carrie Watson’s phone number and confirm with her that it was 111 Rooney Rd., and that Carrie was on her way there with a key.

When Trooper Coupal arrived at Clark’s residence, Sylvester and Carrie were waiting there, according to her statement.

Coupal said that she observed the same scene of legs and blood that Sylvester had seen, and used the key that Carrie provided to enter the house and investigate further.

After securing the home and establishing a crime scene log, Coupal observed that the body was wrapped up in some kind of carpet or rug.

“Her hand was above her head, and black in color,” Coupal said. “It was obvious she was deceased, and I advised dispatch of that.”

JURY MAKEUP

Coupal was later able to identify the body as Ginger Clark after she was provided with a DMV picture of her.

The final witness interviewed was Douglas Stevens, a bus driver who had frequently brought Segundo-Clark to Behavioral Health Services North.

The 12 person jury and three alternates is comprised of nine men and six women. 

Judge William Favreau called a recess of the trial at roughly 4 p.m. to start again tomorrow at 9:15 a.m.

Email Ben Watson:

bwatson@pressrepublican.com