Dad WARREN POWELL is convicted a SECOND TIME for strangling his pregnant wife, then dumping her body in the Hudson River.
25 years to life for wife-killer
In retrial after first conviction was tossed, Warren Powell gets maximum for 1996 murder
By CAROL DeMARE, Staff writer
First published in print: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
HUDSON -- His first murder conviction was overturned, but Warren Powell didn't fare any better the second time around.
A dozen years after his first trial, Powell was sentenced Tuesday to the maximum of life in prison for strangling his pregnant wife. The sentence of 25 years to life begins after he serves 15 to 30 years for an unrelated drug conviction.
The 1997 murder verdict was overturned by an appellate court in 2004 because of an error in jury selection.
Columbia County Assistant District Attorney David Costanzo told Judge Jonathan Nichols that Powell is still a danger to society and the murder sentence should run consecutive to the drug term. "He only cares about himself," the prosecutor continued. "He only cares he was caught and convicted. He has blamed everyone else," including the police.
Powell's attorney, Stephen Coffey of Albany, made an unsuccessful bid that the murder term run concurrently with the drug sentence.
Powell, 38, showed no emotion as the judge pronounced sentencing. He will have to serve at least 25 years before being eligible for parole.
In April, a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in the Oct. 1, 1994, death of Mary Ann Powell, 22, in their Halfmoon apartment.
"Back in 1997, the court sentenced Warren Powell to 25 years to life, the maximum," Costanzo said to a packed courtroom before sentence was imposed. The prosecutor noted that Powell has been in prison continuously since then.
"One would have hoped," he said, that Powell would have accepted responsibility, shown remorse or somehow rehabilitated himself, "but he's as dangerous now as he was in 1997."
The strangulation of Mary Ann Powell "was intentional and calculated," Costanzo said. "He pulled the rope so tight it broke the bones in her neck."
Coffey called Costanzo's remarks "a political speech from the district attorney's office."
"Warren Powell to this day will stand before you and assert his innocence," Coffey said, acknowledging the jury didn't accept Powell's testimony that he was not involved in his wife's murder.
The judge asked Powell if he wanted to make a statement. "No, I don't think I have anything to say. Thank you," Powell said.
Two of the jurors, a man and a woman who declined to give their names, were in the courtroom for sentencing.
After the proceeding, the female juror hugged the victim's mother, Barbara Tasick of Rotterdam. The juror had tears in her eyes as Tasick thanked her.
As Tasick and her husband, Joseph, left the courtroom, Neal Conolly, the lead prosecutor, told them, "Hopefully we'll never see him again."
Barbara Tasick said, "I'm just happy it's over and he got what he deserved."
"We're missing a part of our family," Joseph Tasick said.
Outside the courtroom, Costanzo said the parents "have been through so much. Your heart goes out to them."
Powell concealed his pregnant wife's body inside a hockey equipment bag loaded with rocks, then sank it in the Hudson River in Columbia County, where he grew up. The bag washed ashore at a waterfront campground in Columbia County on Memorial Day weekend in 1996. Mary Ann Powell's remains were fairly intact.
Watching the sentencing were several State Police investigators along with Saratoga County Sheriff James Bowen and two of his investigators, Mike Zurlo and Kevin Mullahey.
Zurlo took the initial missing person report on Mary Ann Powell.
He eventually called the State Police Troop G Major Crimes Unit.
Evidence produced at trial showed Powell purchased a boat the same day he killed his wife, and that was what he used to carry the body to the middle of the river, prosecutors said.
Jurors rejected Coffey's assertions that State Police manufactured evidence against his client, including marks on the boat seats that forensic experts testified matched ridges on the hockey bag.