PLATTSBURGH — A seasonal worker from Jamaica, charged with stabbing another worker last year in Chazy, has been found not guilty of assault and weapons charges.
Linley Baker, 48, was accused of stabbing Knox Cole, 50, after a March 17, 2011, dispute between the two men turned violent.
An indictment charged Baker with felony second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.
Baker’s attorney, Dean Schneller of O’Connell and Aronowitz in Plattsburgh, said his client was trying to protect himself during the physical altercation when he turned the knife on Cole and stabbed him in the abdomen.
“It was a textbook case of self-defense,” Schneller said in a statement.
He said Baker provided compelling testimony during the recent trial, asserting that he endured a series of verbal assaults before the stabbing.
Baker told the court that on March 9, 2011, the two men argued, and Cole held a knife to him.
A week later, early in the morning while both men prepared for work at Giroux’s Poultry, Baker said, Cole attacked him again with a knife at a Reynolds Road apartment.
Schneller said that Baker, in order to protect himself, he turned the knife on Cole.
Cole, who suffered serious abdominal injury, fled to a neighboring apartment, where an acquaintance rushed him to CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh.
Hospital officials later contacted Plattsburgh State Police, and Cole identified Baker as his assailant.
NO PRIOR ARRESTS
Assistant District Attorneys Katherine Kopita and Nick Evanovich presented the case in Clinton County Court before Judge Patrick McGill, and Cole, New York State Police officers, investigators and medical personnel testified.
The defense put Baker on the stand before both sides gave their closing arguments and turned the case over to the jury.
The panel deliberated for about an hour and a half before unanimously finding Baker not guilty.
Schneller said that both he and his client were happy with the jury’s decision.
“Mr. Baker had no prior arrests and received strong support from his family throughout the trial,” he said. “He is extremely pleased that his self-defense claim is vindicated.”
Evanovich said he would hesitate to say the defense’s case was a “clear-cut example of self-defense.”
“The jury found (Baker) not guilty but they did not find him innocent,” he added.
Evanovich said Baker never admitted to the court that he stabbed Cole; he told them they were wrestling and did not remember stabbing Cole.
“The victim is disappointed, and we are disappointed,” the assistant DA said. “It was a case that came down to two people, and it was difficult from the start because only two people saw it.”
He praised both Kopita and the police for their hard work and dedication during the trial.
“Mr. Schneller also did a great job advocating for the client,” Evanovich added.
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