QUEENSBURY — The Warren County District Attorney’s Office won a court battle Wednesday to get a DNA sample from one of the four men alleged to have been involved in the drug-deal-gone-bad that led to the stabbing death of a man in Glens Falls.
Richard L. Rothaupt was directed to allow a DNA sample to be taken from a swab from his cheek as prosecutors work to link him to the prescription drugs that stabbing victim Charles Werner sought to buy on the day he was killed.
Police said Rothaupt, 24, of Queensbury, was part of a group that met the 31-year-old Werner on West Notre Dame Street to sell Werner a quantity of Xanax pills.
Werner instead grabbed them and tried to flee, but he was chased and caught on Union Street, and a fight ensued that ended with Werner being stabbed multiple times.
Rothaupt said he was trying to break up the fight, and he was not charged with any homicide charges. Instead, he faces felony for allegedly possessing the drugs.
Skylar C. Phillips, 21, of Glens Falls, has been charged with second-degree murder and lesser counts for allegedly stabbing Werner, while his roommate, Nicholas C. Hamel, 21, is charged with manslaughter. A fourth person, Erika L. Cooper, 34, of Queensbury, has also been charged with a felony drug possession count for alleged involvement in the drug activity.
Rothaupt’s lawyer, Tucker Stanclift, argued that prosecutors may be seeking the DNA for improper reasons, “using it to prove the case against co-defendants” instead of just for Rothaupt’s case.
Warren County Assistant District Attorney Travis Brown, however, said the testing would only seek to link Rothaupt to the bag of pills he is accused of taking, and the prosecution had met its legal burden to compel Rothaupt to give a sample.
Proving that Rothaupt had possession of the drugs is integral to the case against him, Brown said.
“It’s a bag of pills that witnesses reported him removing from the crime scene,” Brown said.
Warren County Judge John Hall sided with Brown.
“The defendant’s DNA is relevant as to these charges,” Hall said.
All four have pleaded not guilty and are being held in Warren County Jail, pending further court action.
Phillips faces felony counts of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a controlled substance, while Hamel was charged with first-degree manslaughter and two counts of felony assault and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Rothaupt has also been charged with violating his probation for a robbery conviction in Warren County in March, stemming from an incident where he robbed people who sought to buy drugs from him with counterfeit money.