Appeal filed in superintendent’s 2012 murder
The appeal of a second-degree murder conviction for a former Virginia resident who shot and killed the Clymer Central School superintendent in September 2012 will be decided by the Fourth Department Appellate Division.
Rochester appeals attorney Donald Thompson spoke Tuesday on behalf of 49-year-old Anthony “Rob” Taglianetti II, who was convicted in November 2013 for the killing of Clymer Superintendent Keith Reed Jr. The former Woodbridge, Va., resident is currently serving a 25-years-to-life sentence at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York.
Reed, 51, had been reported missing by colleagues and friends on Sept. 23, 2012. Early the next morning, Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputies returned to the superintendent’s Clymer residence with a K-9 unit and, after a short search, discovered Reed’s body about 100 feet from his home.
According to the prosecution at the time of trial, Taglianetti became enraged after discovering an online affair between his wife, Mary, and Reed in August 2012. Driving 350 miles from his home in Virginia to Clymer, Taglianetti searched for Reed at Clymer Central School before shooting him at his home on Sept. 21, 2012.
Thompson argued Tuesday before the justices that then-Chautauqua County Court Judge John T. Ward erred in not allowing Taglianetti’s attorneys to enter a notice of intent to provide a mental health defense because it had been filed after a 45-day window once Taglianetti was arraigned. He further stated that even if the notice was filed late, the jury should have been allowed to consider emotional disturbance when deliberating.
“The lower court completely failed to exercise any discretion concerning the belated filing of the 250.10 notice, noticing the intention to present a mental health defense,” Thompson said during oral arguments.
Article 250.10 also includes the notice of intent to offer psychiatric evidence.
Taglianetti was represented at trial by Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone, who also unsuccessfully sought to get a change of venue due to the amount of media coverage the case had been receiving.
One justice asked Thompson if any evidence was presented during the 10-day trial that would have supported a defense of emotional disturbance. The justice noted that Taglianetti — among other details considered by the jury — had planned the trip to Clymer, took money out of a bank ATM and later went to the school in search of Reed.
Thompson said because Ward would not accept the defense presented by Barone, no evidence that could have pointed to emotional disturbance was allowed to be heard by the jury. He also questioned whether using that defense has to include a crime being committed during a split-second decision, or one that builds over time.
“Here it’s not a three-second event, here it’s a 12-hour-plus event from all the proof that we have,” Thompson said of Taglianetti’s route from Virginia to the Clymer school to Reed’s home. “Could his emotion have dissipated during that period of time? Certainly it could have. Should he have had the opportunity to demonstrate to the jury that it didn’t? Certainly he should have. The court just didn’t exercise any discretion in that regard.”
Chautauqua County Assistant District Attorney John Zuroski spoke on behalf of the state. He said Taglianetti’s own “calculated behaviors” leading up to and immediately after Reed’s murder “left no real true possibility a defense of extreme emotional disturbance.”
“The defendant’s movements were tracked so meticulously,” said Zuroski, noting that Taglianetti went to the Clymer school and posed as someone looking for a teaching application in order to gain access. “Then finding out where he lived; then staking out where he lived; then shooting the victim at that address.”