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Corinth man charged with manslaughter for shooting death of wife

WILTON — The Corinth man who police say accidentally shot and killed his wife last fall when cleaning a handgun was charged Monday with manslaughter for her death.

Eric J. Rosenbrock was charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 15 shooting death of Ashley Rosenbrock in the family’s Raymond Street, Corinth home. The charge alleges he acted recklessly in causing the death of his wife.

He was arraigned Monday afternoon before Wilton Town Justice David Towne and released on his own recognizance with the consent of the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office. Three family members accompanied him to the brief court proceeding.

Mrs. Rosenbrock, 34, died at Saratoga Hospital shortly after she was shot in the torso. State Police said Rosenbrock told them he was “performing maintenance” on a handgun that he legally owned when it fired.

A three-month investigation by State Police from the Wilton station and the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office ensued to try to determine the veracity of Mr. Rosenbrock’s account, and authorities determined that there was no evidence he intentionally shot his wife.

His lawyer, Kurt Mausert, said Rosenbrock had just finished cleaning the 9mm Walther pistol when it discharged as he re-assembled it on a table, preparing for a hunting trip the next day. He was not aware the barrel pointed at his wife, and Mausert said part of the defense investigation will focus on whether the gun malfunctioned.

Even the most experienced, best-trained gun owners have made the same tragic mistake, injuring themselves or others, as most accidental discharges happen with experienced gun owners who become comfortable with their weapons, Mausert added.

He said he believed Rosenbrock’s alleged actions were more negligent than reckless, which would result in a lesser criminally negligent homicide count instead of manslaughter.

Rosenbrock was devastated by the death of his wife, he added.

“It’s a tragedy for everyone involved,” Mausert said. “My hope is to work with the district attorney’s office to come to a fair and equitable resolution.”

The tragedy should not be compounded by depriving the couple’s children of their lone remaining parent through a jail or prison sentence, Mausert said. His wife’s family has been supportive of him, he added.

Saratoga County First Assistant District Attorney Alan Poremba said his office had no comment on the case as of Monday.

The shooting rocked the Corinth area, as the Rosenbrocks were known for their community involvement, particularly after the death of one of their young children from an infection 5 years ago. They began an effort promoting random acts of kindness in the years that followed the death.

The couple, who had been married 11 years and had been high school sweethearts, have three other children, ages 2, 5 and 10.

Mr. Rosenbrock, 35, is due back in court on March 26. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in state prison.

Mr. Rosenbrock is a seventh-grade science teacher in the Lake George school district. District Superintendent Lynne Rutnik said his employment status going forward was still to be determined as of Monday afternoon, but the Rosenbrock family remains in the district’s thoughts and prayers.


Hometown
Hometown Column
Air Force veteran, photographer to document veterans across the state

It took one trip to the VA hospital in Albany for Stephen Willette to know he had to do something for his fellow veterans.

The Air Force veteran had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and medically discharged after 16 years in the service.

“I wasn’t used to seeing that many elderly veterans sitting and waiting,” Willette said. “I left there and I walked out to the car and I was like, ‘Is this me? Is this what I have to look forward to?’”

Advised not to work while he was going through the veteran disability process, the photography enthusiast picked different causes to photograph — like families dealing with autism, cancer or ALS. He offered the photography session and photos for free at the same time as he ran his business, Patriot Images, shooting family photos and weddings.

“There are people that are fighting battles and they’re winning every single day and the battlefield is in their home,” Willette said. “And unless we go and we knock on their door and we meet them, we have no idea.”

The Faces of Veterans project was developed in November during a discussion with Amy Hughes, the program coordinator for Saratoga County Veterans Peer to Peer Mentoring Program. Willette photographed 65 Saratoga County veterans. The photos are now on display at Saratoga Coffee Traders in Saratoga Springs.

Now he is moving on to Warren County.

Willette will be photographing Warren County veterans for free from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lake George American Legion Post No. 374 at 3932 State Route 9L. The black-and-white photos will be taken in 15-minute intervals and provided free of charge to the veterans. He is taking appointments now.

Courtesy photo 

Stephen Willette, an Air Force veteran, is photographing veterans across New York state as part of his Faces of Veterans series that is currently on display at Saratoga Coffee Traders in Saratoga Springs. Willette will be photographing Warren County veterans for free from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lake George American Legion Post No. 374 at 3932 state Route 9L.

The purpose of the project is to show that veterans come in all shapes and sizes, said Willette, a Schuylerville native who now lives in Queensbury.

“It’s your local fireman, it’s your school bus driver, your school teacher, your garbage man, your sanitation worker,” he said.

He hopes to find a Warren County business or restaurant to display the photos. When people see the photos, they realize that the word “veteran” isn’t just a title.

“It’s not just a title, there’s a face, hence the name ‘Faces of Veterans,’” Willette said. “There’s a face associated with that name, and behind that name is a story.”

Veterans can contact him on Facebook or email him at email@patriotimages.org or go to his website, www.patriotimages.org, or call 518-350-3119 to set up a photo session. He is also willing to photograph housebound veterans at their homes.

Veterans can wear anything that is appropriate, uniform or plain clothes, and can include anything in the photo, like memorabilia, medals, flags, photos, service dogs or family.

Courtesy photo 

Stephen Willette, an Air Force veteran, is photographing veterans across New York state as part of his Faces of Veterans series that is currently on display at Saratoga Coffee Traders in Saratoga Springs. Willette will be photographing Warren County veterans for free from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lake George American Legion Post No. 374 at 3932 state Route 9L.

“If they’re a veteran, I don’t care if they’re in it for one year or 40 years, it doesn’t matter,” Willette said. “If they have that title, then it’s open to them, and it’s free.”

Willette will spend the next two years trying to photograph veterans in all 62 counties in New York.

“Don’t give me credit for it,” he said, “because I’m just the person taking the picture.”

It’s the veterans who did the work, he said, and deserve all the credit.


Local
Gov. Cuomo to meet with Trump about impact of tax changes

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo will travel to Washington, D.C., this week for a meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss how recent federal tax changes are hurting the state’s bottom line.

The Democratic governor told reporters on Monday that he’ll urge the president to reconsider a provision in the recent tax overhaul that sharply limits a federal deduction for state and local taxes. Cuomo has blamed that change for a recent dip in state tax receipts, saying it has put New York at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining wealthy residents.

State officials announced last week that income tax receipts have dipped more than $2 billion below projections for the fiscal year ending next month.

“This is not an academic discussion, my friends. This is real life,” Cuomo told reporters on Monday. “This changes the economic trajectory of the state. People are mobile. And they will go to a better tax environment.”

While Trump has praised the tax overhaul, he has signaled a willingness to consider changes.

“There are some people from New York who have been speaking to me about doing something about that, about changing things. It’s been severe on them,” he told a group of journalists last week.

While getting the Republican-led U.S. Senate to agree will be challenging, Cuomo said he hopes the deduction limit could be eliminated now that Democrats control the U.S. House. Trump signed the tax reforms into law in late 2017.

Cuomo plans to travel to Washington on Tuesday and return to New York later in the day, a spokesman said.


Local
Man pleads guilty for Wilton motel death

BALLSTON SPA — The illegal immigrant who accidentally shot and killed a man through a Wilton motel room wall one night last fall pleaded guilty Monday to two felonies, including criminally negligent homicide.

Daniel A. Salas-Miranda, 40, will serve up to 10 years in prison for the shooting death last Oct. 7-8 of 61-year-old Michael Kornacki in his room at Crest Inn & Suites on Route 9 in Wilton. He pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The charges stem from him firing a shot from a handgun that went through a wall separating the two men’s rooms, with the bullet hitting Kornacki as he lay in bed. He did not have a permit for the handgun.

Salas-Miranda told Saratoga County Judge James Murphy that he fired a gun sometime between 6 p.m. Oct. 7 and 6 p.m. Oct. 8. He told the judge he was cleaning the 9mm Springfield Arms semiautomatic and did not know it was loaded, and it discharged as he removed its magazine.

“It was an accident,” he said through an interpreter. “I was not aware someone had been injured or died.”

The plea came after Salas-Miranda was advised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that he could face federal prosecution on the gun charge, which could have resulted in a lengthier sentence. Instead, he will face only immigration prosecution, as he is in the country illegally from Mexico.

“There was a potential for federal charges for his conduct in New York state,” Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Charles Bucca explained.

“That is the reason Mr. Salas-Miranda decided to accept a plea in this court,” his lawyer, Kyle Kordich, told Murphy.

Bucca said the plea deal had been discussed with Kornacki’s family.

Salas-Miranada faces deportation after his release from prison, and also could face federal prosecution for re-entering the country after being deported.

The motel is owned by the family that also owned the limousine that crashed last October in Schoharie County, killing 20 people, but State Police said the two incidents were not related.

Kornacki had been living at the motel, and was found dead on Oct. 10. An obituary published in area newspapers indicated he was a native of Schenectady who had lived in Corinth and worked drilling wells and repairing well pumps.

No obvious external injuries were noticed when he was found, but an autopsy located a bullet in the man’s body, and it was determined that round had apparently caused his death, officials said.

State Police evidence technicians located evidence that a shot had been fired through a wall, and Salas-Miranda was determined to have been in the room.

Kornacki’s family last November questioned the police account, saying it seemed to defy physics for the bullet to pass through a wall and metal refrigerator with enough force to cause a fatal injury. They also questioned how he could have stayed in his room for days without anyone checking on him.

“It’s the family’s belief that Michael’s murder was a loose end that was tied up hours after the bus crash to prevent his testifying about all the shady activities and bookkeeping at the motel/limo company,” a relative who spoke on the condition of anonymity said last fall.

The plea agreement calls for a 10-year prison sentence, to be followed by up to 5 years on parole. Murphy sent Salas-Miranda to Saratoga County Jail, pending sentencing April 2.