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Hillsdale murder trial, on its second round in Hudson, awaits jury verdict

Nov 23, 2010 10:06 am
HUDSON, N.Y. -- The Berkshire Eagle out of Pittsfield, MA has a gripping and exhaustive story on its front page this morning about the murder case of a Berkshire County, Massachusetts man who escaped from a secure mental health facility at Berkshire Medical Center in 2006, then stabbed, bludgeoned and burned a school teacher in New York state, now in the hands of a Columbia County jury in Hudson.

Attorneys delivered closing arguments Monday, November 22 in the trial of 27-year-old William Demagall, a former Stockbridge resident who killed 56-year-old George Mancini on Feb. 11, 2006, at the retired teacher's home in Hillsdale, N.Y.

There's no doubt Mancini was killed by Demagall, a fact Demagall's attorney, Richard Mott, readily admits. But whether Demagall was of a sound mind when he stabbed Mancini 37 times, bludgeoned him with a paperweight, then set fire to the teacher remains to be seen.

The jury must weigh if Demagall was sane or insane at the time of the killing. The difference between an insanity finding and a murder conviction is the institution in which Demagall would possibly be confined -- a psychiatric facility or a prison.

Columbia County Supreme Court Justice Jonathan D. Nichols ordered jurors to return today to the Columbia County Courthouse to begin deliberations in the high-profile case.

The trial began earlier this month and marks the second time Demagall has faced murder charges in connection with the case.

In 2007, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life. But that sentence was overturned after an appeals court ruled that the prosecution's failure to call a witness to the stand justified a "missing witness" charge.

For more on this story, click HERE.