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People v. Naradzay

November 24, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Read, J.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

In late winter or early spring of 2003, D.G. was introduced to defendant Jason Naradzay by a mutual friend while on an out-of-town visit to a resort in the Thousand Islands with two of her girlfriends. D.G. and defendant occasionally talked with and met each other in the ensuing months. In particular, defendant sought D.G.'s assistance in polishing his resumÉ and making contacts in the Syracuse area, where he planned to relocate.

According to D.G., by August 2003 she had decided to sever ties with defendant because he was "appearing just a bit too needy and troublesome . . . in his behavior." She claims that she told defendant not to call her again, but he did, and she would relent and talk to him as "a listening ear." She also encountered defendant in public more often than the odds of a chance meeting would seem to make plausible; for example, he turned up unexpectedly at a party that D.G. hosted for friends at an out-of-town restaurant near her summer home, and at her daughter's soccer game at the Carrier Dome. On February 3, 2004, defendant called D.G., angrily complaining that she no longer made time for him. She responded that he was "now not giving [her] any choice" about continuing their friendship; she instructed him not to call her again. Defendant, for his part, denies that D.G. ever asked him to stop calling her.

Defendant acknowledges, however, that on or about February 4, 2004 he put together a "to-do" list memorializing a plan to break into D.G.'s home and to shoot D.G. and her husband in front of their three children. The list consisted of eight individually numbered steps; specifically, (1) "pick up 7:00," (2) "travel 7:30," (3) "arrive and park and load," (4) "corner of property," (5) "power enter (door knob run and seek)," (6) "ID" (written above the crossed-out phrase "seek out") 1, 2 and 3 (possibly a reference to D.G.'s three children) as well as the words "head, knees, back, hands," (7) "make children look" and "living room," and (8) "final shot!" Below this last item on the list, defendant wrote, among other things, "security," "chest shots," "children," the names of D.G. and her husband, and various body parts. He linked D.G.'s name to "right foot" and "hands"; he linked her husband's name to "knees" and "back."

On February 4, 2003, defendant responded to a newspaper advertisement offering a Remington 20-gauge shotgun for sale. After having first asked the seller to deliver the gun to him on February 6th, defendant called him back to move their appointment up one day, to February 5th. Defendant also called a friend to confirm that she would, as previously arranged, be staying overnight at his Syracuse apartment on February 5th and that he could borrow her vehicle that evening, which defendant falsely told her he needed "to run some errands and . . . meet a friend for coffee." Defendant concedes that he advanced his purchase of the shotgun by one day so as to have it available when he had access to the borrowed vehicle, enabling him to carry out the plan he had "concocted."

The friend arrived at defendant's apartment around 6:40 P.M. on February 5, 2004; the seller of the shotgun, a little later. Defendant lied to the seller that he was buying the shotgun as a gift for his father for skeet shooting, and that "since his father was an elderly gentleman [he] needed something with less of a kick to it." Defendant wrote the seller a check in the amount of $575 (which the seller tried unsuccessfully to cash the next day) for the shotgun, 25 sabot slugs and a green safety key to lock the trigger. The seller described the shotgun as having a "fully rifled barrel that shoots only Sabot*fn1 slugs," and as "real accurate. . . . zeroed for a hundred yards."

Defendant then left his apartment at 7:10 P.M., again telling his friend that he needed to borrow her car to run errands and meet someone for coffee. Five minutes later, he returned to ask his friend about the key to the vehicle, because he had been unable to get the door to open. When she "asked him if he would like [her] to come down, maybe the lock had frozen," he was "adamant about no, no no, it's okay, I'll get it and then he left."

About an hour later, at approximately 8:15 P.M., defendant again returned to his apartment. This time, he lied to his friend "that he had forgotten a library book that he had to return." He "walked past [her] to the bookshelf and grabbed a book," and she saw what "looked like a blanket or something wadded up under his left arm" as he left. Armed with the shotgun, defendant drove from Syracuse to Geddes, where D.G. and her family lived in a house on Cherry Road, at the junction of Cherry and Salisbury Roads.

Unsure of the exact location of D.G.'s house, defendant parked on Cherry Road south of her address and loaded the shotgun with four slugs three in the magazine and one in the chamber. He got out of the vehicle with the shotgun in hand. As he walked north along Cherry Road, he concealed the shotgun inside his coat because "a thought came into [his] mind," that he did not want to be seen with it. As defendant rounded the corner onto Salisbury Road, he realized that "power entry" was the next step on his "to-do" list. His idea was to "kick down the door." According to defendant, he began to wonder if he could do that, but he "couldn't go home." He turned into a driveway on Salisbury Road. Defendant testified that he thought about shooting himself with the shotgun, and "it was the grace of God that [he] didn't commit suicide or what [he] had planned."

Between 9:00 P.M. and 9:30 P.M., a motorist pulled into the driveway of her 85-year-old mother's house on Salisbury Road after a day of shopping and visiting*fn2. She "looked around the neighborhood and . . . saw a man walking up Salisbury Road and . . . made a mental note of it because two ladies going into the house in the dark is scary." As she went around to the back of her car to remove some packages, she saw defendant cross over to the side of Salisbury Road where her mother's house was located, and walk "down the driveway of [her] mother's elderly neighbor." She noticed him "scurr[ying] down the driveway," which "caught [her] attention again for [her] mother's and [her] safety." She then saw defendant pull a shotgun from beneath his coat. He leaned the shotgun against the neighbor's house and stood behind some tall shrubbery, seemingly trying to hide from her. Alarmed, the motorist "closed the back door of [her] car, got in the front door of [her] car, [and] told her mother [they] weren't going home right away." The motorist then drove the six blocks to her own house and immediately called 911.

The first deputy to respond to the motorist's 911 call testified that he received the dispatch informing him of a "[s]uspicious person with a rifle or a weapon" at 9:30 P.M. He arrived at the scene within minutes, driving his patrol car down Salisbury Road in a westerly direction (towards Cherry Road) with his headlights off. He observed defendant standing on the north shoulder of Salisbury Road, just east of the driveway on D.G.'s property. The area was illuminated by a street light. Defendant approached the patrol car, and the deputy asked him if he was the complainant. Defendant responded, "I'm not the complainant, but I have a complaint to report. I have mental problems."

The deputy got out of his patrol car and asked defendant if he had any weapons. Defendant pointed towards a shotgun placed next to a snowbank, about 20 feet from D.G.'s house and closer to the driveway where her van and two other cars were parked. The snowbank was on the shoulder of the road, abutting a wooden fence on D.G.'s property. After defendant admitted that the shotgun was loaded, the deputy placed him in handcuffs. A second sheriff's deputy soon arrived, and secured the loaded shotgun. This deputy testified that he received the dispatch at 9:30 or 9:35 P.M. and was at the scene within three minutes.

The two deputies were soon joined by two town police officers who assisted with frisking and questioning defendant. When asked what he was doing in the area, defendant responded by saying, "[T]hat bitch ruined my life." When asked whom he was referring to, defendant named D.G. and provided her address. Meanwhile, one of the deputies retrieved 21 sabot slugs and the green safety key from defendant's coat pockets. One of the police officers found a folded piece of paper in the ...

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