Wednesday, February 28, 2001
Dad testifies for defense in murder case
By Mark Boshnack
NORWICH Days after Joshua C. Neadom's mother was called as a witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of her son, the defendant's father was called to testify for the defense on Tuesday.
Charles K. Neadom, under questioning by defense attorney Terence O'Leary, recalled the day in January 2000 he asked his son to leave the family house because he suspected his son was involved in drug dealing.
Choking back emotions, Neadom testified, "I still loved him and he was my son, but I wasn't going to put everybody at risk." Neadom said he had come to believe his son was selling marijuana from home because of the frequent phone calls he received and the number of people who stopped briefly outside the residence.
Joshua Neadom, who turned his head away from the witness stand when his father talked about trouble his son had with school, watched intently as his father retold the story of the separation.
After Joshua Neadom left the home where his parents and his brother Curtis lived, he went to live with his grandmother in the city of Norwich.
He was living there when Edward Pastore Jr., 22, was murdered on the morning of July 17. Neadom, 22, has been indicted for second-degree murder and five other charges stemming from allegedly arranging the robbery that resulted in the murder.
The defense plans on calling one or two more witnesses today, according to Judge W. Howard Sullivan, who is presiding over the case in Chenango County Court in Norwich.
After summations by O'Leary and District Attorney Joseph A. McBride, the case is expected to go to the jury for deliberations by mid-afternoon, Sullivan said. If a verdict is not reached today, the jury will be sequestered until a decision is reached.
Charles Neadom has not been in the courtroom during the trial because he was to appear as a witness. He related his version of the visit to the house by Investigator Richard Haas and Investigator Terry Schultz of the state police.
Neadom said that the investigators told him they had five statements and a map that implicated his son in the crime.
Schultz, Neadom said, said that if Joshua didn't confess to having drawn the map that he would be charged in the crime. He advised him that his son should get a lawyer if he didn't confess, "and that is what we did," Neadom said.
Joshua Neadom was arrested Aug. 17.
State police witnesses had previously testified that they didn't have a map. That information, police witnesses said, came from a written statement of Paul Escalante, made after he was arrested for his participation in the crime. The claim to possessing the map, witnesses said, was a common interview technique.
Another person sentenced for the crime, Xavier Valentine, who confessed to shooting Pastore, was briefly in the courtroom surrounded by five police officers.
Valentine, who had been called to the witness stand by O'Leary, invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. A member of the district attorney's staff said Valentine is appealing the sentence of 23 years to life that he received after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Another defense witness, Elizabeth Spencer of Norwich, was called to testify about reports that she heard on her police scanner shortly after the Pastore murder occurred.
Spencer, whose son is friends with Joshua Neadom, said she was awakened about 2:30 on the morning of July 17. The murder took place shortly after 1 a.m.
Spencer said she initially heard reports that gunshots had been fired in the town of Norwich and later heard over the scanner that the people who entered the house where the shots were fired kicked in the door and identified themselves as agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Several witnesses during the trial had testified that is what happened when Valentine and Joanne Carroll entered the Pastore house.
Last week, McBride had called Chad E. Stewart to testify that Neadom told him this information about 7:30 a.m. on the day of the murder. At the time, McBride said that this information could have come only from somebody with inside information about the crime.