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Judge sets bail at $1 million cash, $2 million bond for Robert Neulander

Robert Neulander at his bail hearing on July 9, 2018. (Photojournalist Dennis Harmon)

An Onondaga County judge has set bail at $1 million cash, $2 million bond for a former Central New York doctor accused of killing his wife.

This comes after a state appellate court in Rochester overturned a 2015 conviction of Neulander and granted him a new trial in a narrow 3-2 decision.

RELATED | Appellate court overturns Robert Neulander conviction, grants him a new trial

Neulander's attorney cited Neulander's health issues as they requested bail, saying her client needed his family and dialysis. Prosecutors argued the evidence against Neulander is strong and the strength of the people's case against him makes Neulander a flight risk. Neulander's defense argued he has no ability to flee and has never failed to appear before a court.

Onondaga County Judge Thomas Miller ultimately complied with the defense's request, saying bail is appropriate. If Neulander posts bail, he will have to surrender any passport he has and be subjected to GPS monitoring. Neulander's attorney requested $100,000 cash bail; the bail granted by Judge Miller was 10 times that.

Prosecutors also have said they're the process of challenging the appellate court ruling that overturned Neulander's 2015 conviction; they'll be appealing to New York's Court of Appeals in an attempt to get Nuelander's previous conviction reaffirmed.

The appellate court's ruling overturned the former OBGYN's murder and tampering with evidence conviction from April 2015; prosecutors claimed Neulander killed his wife Leslie Neulander in a fit of rage in September of 2012 inside of their Dewitt home. Prosecutors also allege Neulander tried to cover up the crime scene to make it look like she had fallen in the shower.

During the appeal before the state appellate court panel last year, Neulander's defense raised concerns over potential misconduct by one of the jurors in that trial; specifically that she deleted information from her phone. During the hearing one of the appellate judges concluded there was clearly misconduct by the juror, but the panel said it still needed to decide whether the misconduct impacted the case.

Prosecutors argued the misstep didn't meet the threshold of requiring a mistrial.

In the appellate court's decision, the majority of the justices rejected an argument made by Neulander's team that his conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence, but did decide the aforementioned misconduct by one of the jurors evaluating that evidence was enough to warrant a new trial.

The two dissenting justices acknowledged the jurorcted inappropriately, but disagreed with the majority's conclusion that it necessitated a new trial.

Alexandria Shapiro, the attorney who presented Neulander's appeal, said in a statement the appellate court's decision "reaffirms that ever defendant has the right to an impartial jury and fair trial."

Speaking about the ruling last week, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said he respects the process that led to the conviction being overturned, but said his view of the issue is aligned with the two dissenting justices and that the three making up the majority got it wrong.

In letters he exchanged with a woman while held at the Elmira Correctional Facility following the 2015 conviction, Neulander maintained his innocence, writing, "My family and I are now suffering the pain and anguish of an innocent man condemned to prison." He read those same words from a written statement to the Onondaga County Court during the sentencing.

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