At one point during the summer of 2017, prosecutors in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties were dealing with four new murder cases, and an attempted murder case stemming from a shooting during a robbery in northern Warren County.
The incomprehensibly violent deaths of a Glens Falls mother and her 4-year-old daughter over the summer, which led to the arrest of a former carnival worker, horrified the region and were just part of a spate of violence that had police and prosecutors wondering whether there was a pattern developing. The suspect, Bryan M. Redden, 21, is scheduled to stand trial starting Feb. 5 for the Aug. 11 killings of Crystal Riley, 33, and her 4-year-old daughter, Lilly Frasier, in their South Street, Glens Falls, apartment.
His lawyer has indicated he may pursue a so-called “insanity” defense because of a history of mental problems.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan pointed out that defendants in four of the cases were young people who were involved in shockingly violent crimes, after his agency was called on to prosecute a man for a fatal fire in Hudson Falls.
Derrick M. Guilder, who set his Hudson Falls home on fire Sept. 6 in what he had planned to be a murder-suicide, was charged after he confessed to setting the fire that killed 18-year-old Ashley Coltrain. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Dec. 8 and is expected to receive a state prison sentence of 22 years to life when sentenced Jan. 12 by Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan.
Jordan’s office is also prosecuting Kevin L. Gonyea, 50, for the July 9 strangulation death of his 95-year-old grandmother, Leona Twiss, with a trial in the case likely in early 2018. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and Gonyea and his wife had been caring for them. Jordan said he believed he killed her so they could return to Florida.
State Police also arrested his wife, Melissa Gonyea, 35, for disposing of a towel that was believed to have been used to choke Twiss, and she pleaded guilty to a felony charge and agreed to cooperate against her husband.
State Police in Warren County made quick work of a shooting during a robbery at Hague Market on April 25, with store owner Jim Rypkema surviving multiple shots from a small-caliber rifle. Vittorio Campano, 26, and his girlfriend, Christine W. Tomko, face attempted murder, robbery and lesser charges, including counts related to a home burglary spree before the robbery.
Also over the summer, two teens from Saratoga County were charged with shooting a young man to death in Mechanicville in August, over what police believe was a dispute over marijuana. Trial in that case is likely this spring.