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      Convict's claim of tainted jury wins judicial hearing

      Benedict Agostini
      It appears a local man serving an 18-year sentence for manslaughter in a stabbing death six years ago will have another day in court.

      Onondaga County Court Judge Anthony Aloi has decided to hold a formal hearing into Benedict Agostini's claim that he did not get a fair trial due in part to a tainted jury.

      Agostini was convicted of killing George Printup during a bar fight in Nedrow on June 17, 2007. The jury apparently did not buy Agostini's claim of self defense.

      Agostini claimed the fight originated over insulting comments directed at his wife and that he was beaten in the bar. Agostini says he escaped into the parking lot where Printup came after him and he stabbed Printup fearing for his life. Others say Agostini started the fight and taunted Printup to come into the parking lot to continue the fight, which would contradict a claim of self defense.

      Earlier this year, Agostini filed a motion to throw out his conviction based on the contention that the jury was tainted and possibly influenced by the presence of a District Attorney's investigator named LaVerne Doctor.

      Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick called the claim laughable. Never the less, Judge Aloi has ordered a hearing on the matter in which sworn testimony will be taken by Doctor and an alternate juror who became the basis of Agostini's motion.

      The idea that Doctor had entered the jury room is backed up by an affidavit from Pamela Angotti, an alternate juror who did not participate in the actual deliberations. Though Angotti says Doctor was in the jury room, she did not remember him interacting with the jurors.

      Read the court decision.