QUEENSBURY -- A trial that was scheduled to start next week in the case of a Queensbury man who was charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a 1-year-old has been postponed for a mental health examination of one of the defendants.
Michael E. Hagaman, 28, was to stand trial in Warren County Court starting Monday in connection with repeated sexual assaults of the toddler in a Queensbury home. He faces a 14-count indictment that includes counts of predatory sexual assault against a child, a felony that can bring a sentence of up to life in state prison.
His co-defendant, Anthony M. Merrill, 27, of Queensbury, pleaded guilty Dec. 5 and is expected to testify against Hagaman. Police said the two men sexually abused the child jointly on numerous occasions last spring.
Trial in Hagaman’s case was postponed indefinitely Dec. 21 after Warren County Judge John Hall directed that Hagaman undergo a psychiatric exam to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. A pre-trial hearing that was scheduled for Friday has also been postponed.
If it is determined he is not able to understand the case against him and assist in his own defense, the case would be adjourned indefinitely until it is determined he is fit to stand trial.
His court-appointed lawyer, Garfield Raymond, has said Hagaman has mental limitations and he questioned the veracity of the confession as attributed to him by State Police.
Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan said the issue of whether Hagaman was fit to stand trial was raised at a recent pre-trial conference.
“The case will be postponed without date until that exam is done,” she said.
Raymond said the defense had considered a psychological defense to the charges, but has opted against it.
He said the postponement will allow him to review 1.8 million images that the State Police recently forwarded to prosecutors after an analysis of a computer Hagaman used. There were no allegations any of them contained illegal content.
“I would say it’s going to take at least two weeks to review those,” he said.
Court records show both men told police that Hagaman took photos of the sexual assaults, but no such photos have been recovered and Raymond said they are not among the images police found on the computer.
The two men were romantically involved, and the child was the son of an acquaintance for whom Merrill was baby-sitting at his Forest Park Mobile Home Park residence. The child was repeatedly sexually assaulted numerous times between May 7 and May 25 before Hagaman’s parole officer learned he had unsupervised contact with the child and notified State Police.
Hagaman could not have unsupervised contact with children because he is on parole for a 2004 felony conviction related to the sexual abuse of a 5-year-old boy.
Hagaman has turned down a plea deal offer of a 22-years-to-life prison sentence. The maximum is 25-to-life.
Raymond said another child sexual abuse conviction will likely result in Hagaman facing a civil confinement proceeding when he is released, and that would potentially subject him to life in confinement. So he has few options but to take a chance at trial, Raymond noted.
“It’s definitely going to trial,” Raymond said.