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Don Lehman, 

Snow-covered trees hang over Horicon Avenue in Glens Falls on Friday, March 2.

Shawn LaChapelle, Special to The Post-Star 

Tracy Longdon loads tickets into the 50/50 tumbler Friday at the South High Marathon Dance.

Redden affirms double murder guilty plea

QUEENSBURY — The Glens Falls man who killed a mother and young child last summer affirmed his guilty plea to murder charges Friday when he was brought into Warren County Court after raising questions about his plea deal.

Bryan M. Redden wrote letters to Warren County Judge John Hall and county District Attorney Jason Carusone after his Jan. 11 guilty pleas to the knifepoint killings of Crystal L. Riley, 33, and her 4-year-old daughter, Lilly Frasier, in their Glens Falls home.

He agreed to a plea deal in which Hall guaranteed he would receive up to 44-years-to-life in state prison, but would be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas if the judge decided a greater sentence was warranted.

Redden then penned letters to the court and prosecutor in which he indicated he wanted a lesser sentence, and added “I did not fully understand” the proposed plea agreement.

“I want to make sure you understand what we did, what you’re rights are and you are comfortable with what we did,” Hall told him Friday.

Hall then explained the possible prison terms for the charges he faced, the law regarding sentencing and what he anticipated would occur at Redden’s upcoming sentencing hearing.

Redden told Hall that he had no concerns or reservations about his pleas, and he did not indicate any dissatisfaction with the sentence. He said he was satisfied with the work of his lawyer, Martin McGuinness.

“Do you wish to withdraw your plea?” Hall asked him.

“No,” Redden replied.

Redden was not required to waive his right to appeal the convictions as part of the agreement. The deal was reached with Hall and required Redden to plead guilty to all charges, as Carusone’s office had not offered any reductions or plea deals.

Redden, 21, could have faced up to life without parole for first-degree murder.

He is being held in Warren County Jail pending sentencing March 8.

After he wrote the letters to court and prosecutor, Redden consented to a jailhouse interview with The Post-Star in which he said he did not remember the killings or know why he went to Riley’s apartment, as he was on a days-long drug bender. He is a native of West Virginia who came to the area in 2016 while working with a carnival rides company.

“I just want the family to know how sorry I am,” he said. “I would give my life 10 times over to give them both back.”

Redden told police he had been romantically involved with Riley, though her family was not aware of him being part of her life.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and lesser charges for the theft of Riley’s vehicle and belongings after the homicides.

Cambridge-Greenwich Police arrest two for school threats

Police arrested students at two southern Washington County high schools after they allegedly made threats to shoot other students at schools this week.

Cambridge-Greenwich Police charged a 14-year-old at Cambridge High School and a 16-year-old at Greenwich High School after the teens made comments or gestures that were deemed threatening. Both were charged with felony counts of making a terroristic threat.

The 16-year-old was charged as an adult. He was identified as Paul R. Boyce of Cossayuna. He was jailed, pending arraignment, then released pending prosecution in Greenwich Court. The 14-year-old was released with a summons to the Washington County Probation Department.

Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell said the 14-year-old made a verbal threat to shoot other students Tuesday and was charged Thursday after a school and police investigation.

Boyce is accused of making gestures with his fingers in the shape of a handgun in school on Thursday, and making comments along the lines of “I’m going to get you all,” Bell said.

There were no indications either teen had any plans or any weapons to carry out the threats, the chief said.

Both students are being disciplined by the schools.

Both school districts posted notices about the situations on their school websites late Thursday.

“At no time were any students or staff on our campus under a direct threat of violence,” the Greenwich school statement read. “As a result, the JSHS maintained normal operation with a police presence in the building.

“Please know the safety of your children is of highest priority. Our partners in local law enforcement have assured us our campus is safe. We will continue to work closely with law enforcement to maintain a safe learning environment in our schools,” the Cambridge statement read.

The incidents come on the heels of a school massacre in Florida last month, and numerous copycat incidents around upstate New York in recent days. A Granville High student and two 12-year-old Mechanicville students were also charged earlier this week.

“You don’t want to crucify these kids, but in today’s world, we just can’t ignore this stuff,” Bell said. “There’s got to be consequences.”

Under state law, those 16 and older who are arrested are prosecuted as adults, although that law is scheduled to change later this year, with 16-year-olds treated as juveniles and then 17-year-olds treated as juveniles when the full change is phased in next year.

On guns, companies are getting out ahead of the politicians

NEW YORK — In 1960, black students staged sit-ins that forced Woolworth’s to desegregate its lunch counters, and other stores and restaurants followed suit. In 1986, General Motors, Coca-Cola and dozens of other U.S. corporations pulled out of apartheid-era South Africa after years of pressure from activists, college students and investors.

This week, four major retailers slapped restrictions on gun sales that are stronger than federal law.

Those are all rare examples of American companies getting out ahead of the politicians and the law on socially explosive issues. Such decisions are almost always made reluctantly, under huge pressure and with an eye toward minimizing the effect on the bottom line.

The Feb. 14 massacre of 17 students and teachers at a Florida high school has set off a response from U.S. businesses unlike any previous mass shooting.

Major corporations, including MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines, have cut ties to the National Rifle Association. Walmart, Kroger, L.L. Bean and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21. Dick’s also banned the sale of assault-style rifles, a step Walmart took in 2015. And Dick’s CEO went even further by calling for tougher gun laws.

Those actions amounted to an act of defiance against the NRA and its allies in Washington who have vehemently opposed any ban on AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons or a higher age limit for gun purchases.

“What we are seeing is a real shift,” said Mimi Chakravorti, executive director of strategy at the brand consulting firm Landor. “I think right now, companies are acting ahead of the government because they are seeing that the changes are too slow.”

Still, business leaders are not exactly leading the charge for the stricter guns laws. Their actions came in response to protests by the students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to growing calls by consumers for boycotts against companies that do business with the NRA or gun manufacturers.

And their decisions didn’t represent much of a sacrifice from a strictly business point of view. Most of Dick’s business, for instance, is in other types of sporting goods, such as sneakers and basketballs. Guns and ammunition are estimated to account for only 8 percent of sales.

Walmart has not said how much of its business comes from guns, but when the company stopped offering AR-15s in 2015, it cited declining sales.

The actions of those retailers will have very little practical effect on the availability of guns.

Roger Beahm, a professor of marketing at Wake Forest University School of Business, said smaller retailers will probably capitalize on the situation by selling the weapons the major chains will no longer handle.

It remains to be seen what effect the corporate reaction will have on the wider gun debate.

Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA who has written extensively about gun policy, said the NRA is unlikely to budge, but politicians might.

“I don’t think the NRA is going to bow down or buckle to pressure,” Winkler said. “However, the gun debate may change to the extent that this is being driven by companies’ sense of what consumers want. That might affect elected officials on Election Day. Today, they are consumers. On Election Day, they are voters.”

It is rare for a company to drop products out of social concern. When it happens, the calculation is that any loss of revenue will be offset by increased customer loyalty in the long term, Beahm said.

He cited the example of CVS Health, which stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2014, a decision that cost $2 billion in revenue but was well received by its customers.

That move was a rare example of a company taking a socially conscious step under no public pressure. Most of the time, corporations act when it becomes untenable for them to ignore the pressure, as in the case of Woolworth and the corporations that left South Africa.

In the case of guns, the calculation of whether to jump into the debate or sit on the sidelines is tricky because the country is so divided on the issue.

Delta Air Lines, for example, faced swift retribution for cutting ties to the NRA. Georgia’s Republican state lawmakers voted Thursday to kill a proposed tax break on jet fuel that would have saved the airline millions.

While polls show the country is split on the broad issue of gun controls, there is widespread support for some measures opposed by the NRA, such as universal background checks.

“The business leaders who make these decisions are betting on the future as opposed to a distorted view of the past,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at Yale School of Management.

The debate over whether it is the business of corporations to weigh in on social issues goes back decades. In 1962, the celebrated economist Milton Friedman, in his book “Capitalism and Freedom,” argued that the only social responsibility of business was to increase profits and play by the rules.

But in recent years, U.S. companies have found it increasingly impossible to avoid being drawn into America’s culture wars.

That was dramatically illustrated when Indiana and North Carolina faced a backlash from businesses that threatened to boycott the states over laws that were deemed discriminatory toward gay and transgender people. Bank of America, American Airlines and IBM were among dozens of companies that spoke out.

A big difference from decades past is the strengthening voice of consumers, who now have a plethora of choices for where to spend their money and social media platforms for making their views heard, Chakravorti said.