Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Man testifies about planning robbery
By Mark Boshnack
NORWICH Anthony Escalante said that, when he heard the first shotgun blast go off during the July 17 robbery of Edward Pastore Jr., he thought Xavier Valentine was trying to scare people in the house on Lewis Road in Norwich.
But when Joanne Carroll, who had accompanied Valentine, returned to the car where Escalante was sitting in the back, she said Pastore "had a hole in his chest," Escalante said.
Escalante testified Tuesday in Chenango County Court during the trial of Joshua C. Neadom, 22, who is charged with second-degree murder and other charges.
Escalante is scheduled to return to the witness stand at 9:15 a.m. today in the second week of the trial.
When Valentine started yelling at Carroll that he had only just grazed Pastore, Escalante said, "I didn't know what was going on."
"At that point I was scared to death," he added. If Valentine had indeed shot the man, "why should I think he wouldn't hurt me?"
Valentine, 38, of Staten Island, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in this case and was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison, and Carroll, 34, also of Staten Island, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was given a 15-year sentence.
Escalante, 20, of Staten Island, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. He has not yet been sentenced.
The testimony came after Neadom's defense attorney, Terence O'Leary, had subjected Escalante to a rigorous cross-examination. O'Leary asked him "Why did you do that which caused the death of Edward Pastore?"
Escalante, who was wearing a black jacket and patterned tie, leaned toward the court microphone and, fully composed, said, "We were all supposed to make money on it. For Josh Neadom, it was a revenge deal."
Settling his 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound frame into the chair, he told O'Leary, "If Josh Neadom hadn't called, we wouldn't have come up here."
Besides Escalante, Valentine and Carroll, who drove to Pastore's home in one car, Escalante's brother, Paul, and his girlfriend, Tammy Van Deusen, accompanied them in another car and waited nearby off Route 23.
Paul Escalante was sentenced to 20 years to life after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Van Deusen was sentenced to eight years after she pleaded to first-degree robbery.
Anthony Escalante testified for nearly four hours on details mostly involving the weekend that led to Pastore's murder and the arrests of the participants, including turning himself in to authorities several days later.
He recounted how he and his brother met Pastore when they stayed with former Staten Island resident Andrew Adams, who moved to Norwich in the summer of 1999.
Facing the seven women and five men of the jury, Anthony Escalante explained the cocaine trade he was involved with and the marijuana trade with which Pastore was involved. Escalante said Pastore was making money by handling shipments of 10 to 15 pounds of marijuana, which could cost up to $3,500 a pound.
According to Escalante, Neadom felt he was losing out on the business and talked to Paul Escalante in June about robbing Pastore.
Anthony Escalante detailed the on-again-off-again plans. He testified that Valentine was chosen to carry out the robbery because he had robbed homes in the past. After Neadom called Escalante on July 14 about a shipment of marijuana Pastore was to pick up, Escalante talked with Valentine and Carroll and they decided "let's do it," he said.
Anthony Escalante testified that Neadom drew maps of the Pastore house, even giving directions on which roads to take and what they would find in the house, during several meetings in the days before the robbery.
Escalante said that when the robbers didn't have bullets for their guns, Neadom gave them ideas on how to get the shotgun shells. A local sporting goods store sold the group ammunition used in the robbery, he said.