NORWICH – Following a bench trial that began on Monday, a judge has ruled that a former corrections officer was not guilty of attempted murder or four other charges he was facing, when he shot an African American man following a drinking dispute.
Wayne J. Spratley, of Greene, was found not guilty of attempted murder and first-degree assault, both charged as hate crimes.
In addition to the two hate crime charges, Spratley was also found not guilty of the three other felony counts, including attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and first-degree criminal use of a firearm.
Prosectors argued he shot a man in the abdomen in an incident that took place at 3:30 a.m., July 19, 2015, in a parking lot along Lackawanna Avenue in Norwich.
Shortly before the incident took place the two men allegedly got into an argument where Spratley used racially offensive language.
Chenango County Judge Frank Revoir Jr. said the prosecution had failed to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt.
Key factors to the not guilty verdict, said Defense Attorney Micheal E. Garzo, were changes in testimony by witnesses called by the prosecution, and the fact Spratley was being tackled when his gun went off, indicating a lack of intent.
The case was prosecuted by First Assistant District Attorney Michael D. Ferrarese.
Following the ruling District Attorney Joseph McBride said, “With all respect to the judge and the court, I don't understand this ruling at all.”
If he had been convicted Spratley faced as many as 25 years in prison.
A full article will appear in tomorrow's Evening Sun