QUEENSBURY — A judge has declined to dismiss charges filed against the Hadley man who allegedly sent an inert grenade to Warren County Judge John Hall over the summer.
Acting Warren County Judge Jeffrey Wait ruled there was sufficient evidence for the charges against Joseph A. Schutta to proceed to trial in the coming months.
Schutta was arrested on July 27, after state court officers in Warren County became suspicious of a package that had been discovered in a mailbox by a U.S. Postal Service worker. It was X-rayed and found to have a grenade inside. The grenade was later found to be inactive.
Bizarre written notes that were found with the package led Warren County sheriff’s investigators to Schutta, who has a long criminal record.
Schutta’s lawyers with the Warren County Public Defender’s Office had argued there was insufficient evidence against him to sustain the charges, and that the grand jury proceeding that resulted in his indictment was flawed.
Wait, though, found sufficient evidence, and no procedural errors that would justify dismissal.
No trial date has been set in the case, as lawyers continue to litigate a motion filed by the public defender’s office seeking to pursue a so-called “insanity” defense.
A report from a court-ordered examination of Schutta has been received by the court, although it has been sealed from public view by a ruling from Wait.
Warren County Public Defender Marcy Flores wrote earlier this year that her client “lacks the substantial capacity to know or appreciate either the nature and consequences of such conduct or that such conduct was wrong.”
Flores did not specify which mental illness Schutta supposedly suffers from, which prompted Warren County prosecutors to file papers seeking more specific information on Schutta’s mental condition.
Should the defense be successful, and if Schutta is found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, he would be confined in a secure mental institution indefinitely, pending a determination he is no longer mentally ill or dangerous.
Schutta, 48, has pleaded not guilty to a three-count felony indictment that includes counts of crime of terrorism, placing a false bomb or hazardous substance and making a terroristic threat.
Police said Schutta did not offer any motive for the threat, and court records show he told officers he was “set up.” But Hall had sentenced Schutta to two years in Warren County Jail in 2005 after he pleaded guilty to multiple felony and misdemeanor charges for threatening another person and illegally possessing a semiautomatic handgun that had its serial number filed off.
The package included a number of writings about police inaction against people Schutta believed committed crimes.
No further court dates have been set. Schutta remains in Warren County Jail, pending further court action.