Judge’s decision leaves Saratoga Springs shootout case in legal limbo

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It’s a development that, for now, leaves the Vito Caselnova case in legal limbo. It also begs the question: will anyone ever be held accountable for the dangerous gunfight that sent bullets flying over a busy downtown street?

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“The judge took the effort to write 31 pages to support his feeling of irregularities,” Albany Attorney Paul DerOhannesian said.

DerOhannesian, who has handled many police-involved shooting cases during his long legal career, said it is extremely rare for a judge to essentially rip up an entire criminal indictment like what happened in the Caselnova case.

Saratoga County Court Judge James Murphy declared the “prosecutor’s tactics were improper”, the evidence presented to the grand jury was “legally insufficient” and therefore the “integrity of the proceedings became impaired.”

One of the main problems Judge Murphy apparently had with the police body cam video presented to the grand jury was that he believed it showed things out of context.

“A substantial and important event occurred before the police arrived on the scene,” DerOhannesian said. “This is the problem with released police video without context, you don’t have all the information.”

DerOhannesian said Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen now has three options. She can appeal the judge’s decision, she can do nothing, or the most likely scenario, he believed, is she can re-present the case to a new grand jury.

“I think certainly in a case like this that has such significant public attention, the use of guns in a public area, I think there is a greater reason to be concerned about having a presentation that resolves this issue from a public point of view,” DerOhannesian said.

In other words, the public deserves to know everything that happened on that night last November, and someone needs to be held accountable if there was wrongdoing.

“I think what we saw originally gave us the impression that it was somewhat of a wild west shootout,” DerOhannesian said. “But I think reading the decision points out even more how much of a verbal and physical altercations were taking place in various locations throughout the city but inside restaurants and bars as well as on the streets.”

Meanwhile, Heggen pointed out the court’s decision does not absolve Caselnova from any wrongdoing. She’ll review the court’s decision, she said, and move forward with the case.