Under extra security, 52-year-old Tony Pavone walked into court for day one of his double murder trial that is expected to last several weeks.
"It's just been a waiting game, just been a headache, been rough on the family," said Bryan Carter, the son of Timothy Carter.
Pavone allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend Patricia Howard and her new boyfriend Timothy Carter last year after Howard had just ended their nine-year relationship a month earlier.
"The defendant was extremely jealous that Patty Howard was finally able to cut the rope Tony Pavone had around her," said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie During his opening statements.
Prosecutors say that after stalking Howard and Carter, the Morrisonville man traveled to Carter's home in Dannemora at 3:30 in the morning. According to prosecutors, when Howard refused to come outside and give Pavone a hug, he busted down the door, pulled out a handgun, shot Howard, kicked her and then shot her again in the head. He then allegedly shot Carter twice - including once while he was on the ground.
"There's a possible defense of extreme emotional disturbance," said John Carney, Pavone's attorney. Carney argued that jurors should consider a charge of manslaughter -- that the killings were not pre-calculated and intentional, but rather that the former Marine and corrections officer just snapped during a jealous rage. He pointed out that Pavone suffered a serious head injury as a guard and had even offered to sleep in the snow outside Carter's home that January evening. "It arises from the common law -- heat of passion -- a statutory defense and I think it is something we may be able to present to the jury," Carney said.
Cheryl Hanna, with Vermont Law School, says this type of defense can be a tough sell to a jury. "It can be a doubled edged sword. In very rare cases the jury will believe the expert testimony that the person wasn't responsible for what they did. But often times it gives the jury a sense of, well this is why the person killed that person," she said.
The families of Patricia Howard and Timothy Carter say only a murder conviction will be justice for them. "The point is there was a whole lot of thought that went into that night when things happened and I don't think there was justification for it," Bryan Carter said.
Pavone is expected to testify in his own defense during the trial. If convicted of first degree murder, he faces life in prison without parole.
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