Deputy Rifle Malfunctions Before Patterson Fires Gun
Utica, NY (WIBX) - The Christian Patterson murder trial concluded its 3rd day in Oneida County Court. Today, prosecutors called several witnesses to testify, including a forensic firearms expert, who said that the bullet fragment that struck and killed Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy Kurt B. Wyman during the stand-off in the Town of Augusta last June, was too damaged to analyse.
One major development in the trail was Deputy Carey Phair's testimony about his weapon malfuntioning right before the fatal shot that claimed Wyman's life. During questioning he said he witnessed Patterson attempt to put his right arm in a jacket he retrieved from the back of the garage. Assistant District Attorney, Laurie Lisi then asked, "Did you hear something at that point?" Phair said, "I hear two small thud, thud's."
ADA Lisi: Did you hear any voices?
Phair: Yeah, I heard, Now! Now! Now's the time!
ADA Lisi: And then you hear two thuds?
Phair: Yes ma'am.
ADA Lisi: Did you recognize that noise?
ADA Lisi: What did you recognize that noise to be?
Phair: As a projectile being shot from the 40 millimeter grenade launcher as we call them in the Military.
He was asked if he saw anything at that point, to which he replied that he saw two flashes and then the projectile strike Patterson almost simultaneously. Phair says he then saw Patterson slump backwards, his left hand remaining on the weapon, while his right hand reached to grab hold of the weapon. Phair said he then saw Wyman running from left to right toward the opening of the garage. Then he hears someone yell, "No! No! No!"
Phair said he then saw Patterson swing his weapon around toward the opening of the garage. He said, "I immediately pull the trigger on my weapon." Lisi then asked him what happened next and Phair in a tearful voice said, "Nothing." He goes on to say that he then saw Patterson aim and fire at Wyman, who arrived at the opening of the garage. Lisi asked if his gun misfired to which he replied, "Yes." He said the malfunction happened when Wyman was across the end of the garage. Phair said he saw Patterson pull the trigger after his rifle malfunctions. "I see Kurt Wyman get struck with a round and fall backwards," he said.
Phair said at that point he saw another flash coming from the garage toward Investigator David Nowakowski who was still in the patrol vehicle, and himself. He said after his second attempt to fix the malfunction he dropped the weapon, pulled out his hand gun and rushed toward the garage. He said the flash that whizzed by his head at that point was Patterson firing off a second round at officers.
During cross examination of Investigator Dean Famolaro, one of the Emergency Response Team members who fired the initial shot with the non-lethal weapon, the defense again tried to show that the officers did not follow proper procedure. Defense Attorney Frank Nebush asked him how he and Deputy Paul, the other ERT member with a non-lethal weapon, came to fire their weapons simultaneously, and if they were concerned that Nowakowski was still in the process of moving patrol car 462 for better lighting. Famolaro said, "I'm not sure if the tires were moving or not. That was not my concern at that point." He goes on to explain that his eyes were fixed on Patterson to make sure he could take the opportunity to launch his non-lethal weapon when the opportunity presented itself.
He explained that the strategy to fire was based on their Captain's order when the team arrived on the scene and constructed the plan at the staging area. He said the opportunity presented itself when Patterson removed his right hand from the trigger when he was attempting to put on a jacket. Famolaro said the entire shoot-out ended in a matter of seconds.
Patterson is charged with Aggravated Murder and Assault. The Assault charge stems from attacking his girlfriend, Shannon Secor, on the evening of June 6th. That domestic dispute is what lead to the 6-hour stand-off that claimed Wyman's life during the early morning hours of June 7th. Patterson is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Testimony will resume tomorrow morning in Oneida County Court.