NORWICH – John M. Guzy, a retired New York State Police Officer, and current at the time part-time Corrections Officer in Chenango County was arrested in 2014 for the murder of Derek D. Prindle of Afton and the attempted murder of Prindle's father Derek S. Prindle.
Guzy was indicted on 17 charges stemming from the incident including: murder in the second degree, a class A-1 felony; attempted murder in the second degree, a class B felony; two counts of assault in the first degree, a class B felony; two counts of criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, a class B felony; criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, a class C felony; criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a class D felony; tampering with physical evidence, a class E felony; driving while intoxicated, a class A misdemeanor; and six counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor.
Guzy had waived his right to a jury trial in an attempt to seek a fairer verdict in Chenango County, ultimately allowing Judge Frank B. Revoir Jr. holding the ultimate decision in his hand.
The testimony of that fateful day in 2014 of the father, Derek S. Prindle was heard first on day one of the bench trial and has been reported in the Monday, April 4, edition of The Evening Sun.
In later editions, the testimony of the all but one of the remaining witnesses the prosecution called was heard and reported.
The third day saw the last of the prosecution's witnesses take the stand, Dr. James Terzian of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton. Terzian was the doctor who performed the autopsy of Derek D. Prindle.
Terzian was given copies of his autopsy notes as well as shown pictures that were taken at the time for identification. Terzian did testify that he observed two gunshot wounds to the victim, one to the right side of the chest area and another to the lower left abdomen area.
Terzian did testify to the angle and impact of the wounds saying, “both either loose contact or very close. You can almost see a muzzle print. These were very close range wounds. Gun powder comes out when a gun is fired, I found it on the chest wound.”
Terzian further alleged that he did do a toxicology report on Derek D. Prindle saying he found a trace of marijuana in his system.
District Attorney Joseph McBride questioned Terzian about BAC levels and alcohol consumption, due to Guzy being intoxicated during the incident and being recorded as having a .11 when tested hours after.
Terzian explained a general rule of thumb is .02 BAC per drink per hour, to which McBride concluded that since Guzy was not tested until three and half hours later, he must have had closer to .18 BAC in his system.
Terzian was recrossed from Bergman before a fifteen-minute recess was allowed then leading to Guzy choosing to testify on the stand as the only witness for the defense.
Guzy did explain his background to Bergman of being a retired NYC Police Officer and how he had previously been employed by the Chenango County Sheriff's Office at the time of the incident.
He further alleged that it was not a forced retirement from the NYC Police instead he left and moved to Bainbridge in 2003 where he has resided since.
Guzy explained at the time of the incident he was not in the best physical health divulging to the court that he suffered from previous heart attacks, and the hardening of his liver.
Guzy explained his account of the morning prior t the eventual shooting of Derek D. Prindle, stating that he went grocery shopping and to run other various errands, before returning to his house for lunch. “I ate lunch, and had Mikes Lemonade, the 24 oz. Cans like two or three of them and left the house at like 1:15 p.m.,” said Guzy. “I wanted a haircut, I had my berretta 25 Cal jetfire in my right front pocket for protection.
Guzy recounted that he did come up on a vehicle traveling the same route as he on route 7, before attempting to pass the vehicle in a passing zone. “The driver had his left hand up and gave me the middle finger, once I passed them and got back into my lane the driver had his whole arm out the window flipping me off, they were driving irrational so I pulled off into the parking lot of Peak Fitness. I wanted to get away and hoped they'd keep going, they followed me into the parking lot.”
Guzy explained that the two men from the other vehicle jumped out and the father was yelling and screaming at him immediately. “I said calm the (expletive down).”
Guzy alleged that the father, Derek S. Prindle did yell, “let's kick his ass,” before he was attacked by both men. During the struggle that ensued Guzy explained that he did have his loaded weapon on him but did not draw the gun at this time.
“It was going to go bad for me,” said Guzy before explaining that he feared for his life and that he thought if he fell to the ground he would receive worse injuries than he already had. I was petrified I thought he was going to take my gun,” to which Guzy admitted drawing the weapon to use as a blunt object.
“I fired twice at the son, he let go and fell over,” said Guzy before alleging that he was unsure if his cell phone was charged, which was his reasoning for leaving the scene and traveling to the Troop C barracks.
Further explaining, Guzy claimed that through the NYPD that he was allowed the weapons found at his house but had failed to re-register them, saying that he had never previously shot at, killed, or discharged his weapon at a human.
During recross, McBride called into question the unlicensed firearms discovered stating that The NYC Police were contacted and they showed no record of Guzy having gun licenses for the recovered fire arms.
Guzy did admit that he was committing a felony, and misdemeanor of carrying a loaded unregistered weapon on his person while being intoxicated and driving even prior to the incident occurring.
McBride also alleged that Guzy had previously been let go from working at the Otsego County Jail due to misconduct, prior to being employed by the CCCF.
“How many drinks do you have a day. Do you have a problem with alcohol,” asked McBride.
“ I have three to four drinks everyday, I have had a problem with alcohol since my 40's,” said Guzy.
“Can alcohol affect your judgment,” said McBride, before alleging that Guzy being 240 pounds at the time and drinking three Mikes Hard Lemonades should be able to drink more in order to reach a .11 BAC.
“I actually had a drink in my vehicle with me that I did not finish, I finished it after,” said Guzy.
McBride explained that it is legal in NYS for a citizen to flip off an officer, “Why didn’t you just drive away, you could have went as fast as you wanted.”
McBride did in fact recount the incident with Guzy once again, to which he caught Guzy admitting he did spit in the face of the father in an attempt to make them leave, and that he could have left prior to the attack but chose not to.
McBride alleged that Guzy instead of calling 911 after the shootings had occurred traveled to the police barracks in Sidney and told the police at the Troop C barracks that he left the gun at the scene of the crime, and that he may have shot one and that someone had 'knifed him.'
Guzy alleged that he panicked and threw the gun out the window while driving to the police barracks and that the blood on his face was from checking for his own injuries due to him believing they had 'knifed' him at the time.
Court was adjourned for lunch recess until 1:30 p.m. where the closing statements were heard by the defense and prosecution.
Bergman alleged that the matter boiled down to the testimony of the father Derek S. Prindle versus the testimony of John Guzy, before showing detailed slideshow to the court of instances he believed witnesses from previous days corroborated Guzy's testimony rather than Prindle's.
Specifically, Amber Larsen, Brett Cowen who both testified as seeing a fight that seemed as two men versus one, where the father initiated the fight.
Bergman further explained that Derek S. Prindle lied about having a gun to his head and that this was first documented on the courthouse steps to the media rather than in an official report.
The lies Bergman alleged that Derek S. Prindle told included Guzy having prior murders, a knifepoint robbery, Guzy working a double shift the prior night, and his forced retirement in NYC.
“He is loose with his facts, you cant rely on him beyond a reasonable doubt to find my client guilty,” said Bergman.
Bergman pleaded with Revoir to look to the witnesses who were mere witnesses and had no affiliation in the case for the truth.
Saying Karen Vandermeulen heard a succession of pops, which matched the story of Guzy rather than the delayed firings that Prindle gave in his testimony.
“He is entitled to use reasonable force, until he heard them say get the gun then he is entitled to use deadly force, it is the Prindles’ duty to retreat as they followed him to the parking lot,” said Bergman.
Bergman asked that all charges be dropped in the case.
McBride was given a chance for closing statements He was a man with an illegal weapon, drunk and truing to find someone to start a problem with to use his 25 Cal gun on,” said McBride. “The drunk CO with a loaded gun in his pocket walked over and said 'what is your (expletive) problem.”
McBride further alleged that was very logical to assume that Guzy knew he had just killed a man and therefore disposed of the murder weapon.
“He drove away like the coward he was that day, says he was nervous and got rid of the gun, he wasn’t. He was the initial aggressor, he has to retreat if possible and he admitted he could have, you cant start a fight with intent to prove someone so you can kill them,” said McBride. “He turned a fistfight into a homicide, and that is against the law.”
McBride asked for Guzy to be found guilty on all counts in the case.
“Once he lies on the stand, you are entitled to reject his entire testimony, I ask for justice in this case,” said McBride.
Following around an hour of deliberation, Judge Revoir did return a verdict, which found John M. Guzy guilty on 15 of the 17 charges including the top count of murder.
Guzy was remanded to the CCCF to await sentencing at a later date.