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WATKINS GLEN   ADVERTISEMENT

Chad Mack’s motion to withdraw plea is denied  

WATKINS GLEN—Schuyler County Court Judge J.C. Argetsinger has issued a Decision and Order July 2 in the matter of the People of the State of New York v. Chad C. Mack.  The defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea has been denied.
Shortly after entering a guilty plea to robbery in the first degree and murder in the second Degree on May 28, 2003, Mack moved to withdraw his plea. He claimed that he was suffering from a mental disease or defect that prevented him from entering a knowing, voluntary and intelligent plea. Due to an appeal, motions and hearings on this issue, the court’s decision was not able to be made until this time.
Mack had entered a plea in 2003 admitting that he drove Elizabeth Kettle to the home of Teresa Ford in the town of Orange and provided her with a loaded pistol for the purpose of robbing Ford. While in the house, Kettle shot and killed Ford. Kettle and Mack then stole Ford’s purse and drove back to Salamanca, N.Y. Kettle pleaded guilty to murder and burglary and was sentenced to 35 years to life.  Argetsinger denied Mack’s original motion to withdraw his plea and sentenced him to 25 years to life.
The case against Mack has been pending for the last seven years due to an appeal and several motions to withdraw his guilty plea. The court, in its decision relied heavily on opinions given by Schuyler County Mental Health providers at the time of defendant’s plea. One provider stated that after his plea, Mack was “thoughtful and articulate (...) and talked about his clear rationale for his plea.” The court also gave significant consideration to the People’s expert. Gary Horwitz, M.D., from Rochester.
Horwitz testified at a hearing Nov. 6, 2008, to retrospectively determine Mack’s competence at the time he entered his plea.  Horowitz had previously testified on 20 other occasions as a forensic psychiatrist in criminal courts around the state. His opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, was that Mack entered a knowing, voluntary and intelligent plea May 28, 2003. The court heavily discounted the testimony of psychiatrist Veena Garyali, M.D., hired by defense counsel Susan Betzjitomir of Bath.  According to the court’s decision, Garyali had little experience and failed to review many relevant and crucial documents before testifying at the reconstruction hearing.
The court has requested an update pre-sentence investigation and has scheduled the defendant’s sentence for Sept. 3, 2009.  Mack faces 25 years to life on the top count of murder in the second degree.
 



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