NORWICH – For the second time in his life, Peter M. Wlasiuk heard a jury of his peers declare him guilty of murdering his wife in 2002 and staging an accident at Guilford Lake to cover it up.
The jury reached its decision at 11:13 a.m. Friday, after more than five hours of deliberations.
“I am glad the jury was able to see past the defendant’s attempt to scheme his way through our justice system,” said District Attorney Joseph McBride. “I’m glad justice was served on behalf of victim and her family. Hopefully they can now move forward with their lives and enjoy some peace.”
McBride thanked Staff Attorney Christopher Belling of the New York Prosecutors’ Training Institute who specializes in New York State case law and capital crimes aided for aiding in the conviction.
“It was an emotional experience for me personally – for us at the DA’s office, the police, the staff, the friends and family,” added McBride.
Wlasiuk, 39, was convicted of second degree murder for the April 2002 death of his wife, Patricia. Prosecutors contend Wlasiuk killed his wife at their Oxford home and later staged a truck accident at Guilford Lake, in which he claimed she drowned.
Six years ago, another Chenango County jury also convicted Wlasiuk of second degree murder, but the New York State Appellate Division overturned that verdict on Aug. 31, 2006.
Chenango County Sheriff Thomas Loughren appeared on the steps of the courthouse Friday to comment on the case. His office was continually criticized for its conduct by defense attorney Randel Scharf, who indicated police corruption and incompetence in his closing remarks to the jury. Loughren singled out the lead detective in the case in 2002 who has risen since to the rank of Patrol Lt., James E. Lloyd.
“I’m just glad the people of this jury saw past all the lies painted on the Sheriff’s Office by the defense attorney and found justice,” said Loughren.
Juror number six, Dr. James Lentini, said the jury was deadlocked, nine for conviction and three against, until the discovery of a notation on an evidence form submitted by the defense. The notes on the form describe the circumstances of the investigation to the New York State Police Forensic Science lab in Albany.
“Until that point I didn’t think we could’ve broken the deadlock, but here were the victim’s own concerns that her husband might try to kill her,” said Lentini.
The notes basically contained a run down of the sheriff’s investigation, including remarks that Patricia Wlasiuk’s diary allegedly contained passages that detailed a “fear of death” at the hands of her husband and a growing concern over Peter’s sexual relationship with Joyce Worden.
Patricia’s diaries were presented as evidence by the prosecution in the 2002 trial, but on appeal the appellate division was critical of the passages being submitted to the jury, saying that a number of the entries were several years old and created unjust bias. The prosecution elected not to present the journals as evidence in the second trial and avoided drawing attention to them in witness testimony.
The document containing the notes was submitted by the defense. Scharf said the form was presented because it was part of a paper trail that showed testing on a hair sample never returned to the Sheriff’s Office...