Deputy: weapon malfunctioned, failed to fire at Patterson

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A painful revelation from the witness stand on Thursday in the murder trial of Christian Patterson - the man accused of shooting and killing an Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy following a six-hour standoff in the Town of Augusta back in June.

Deputy Carey Phair was there when Deputy Kurt Wyman was shot and killed. Phair heard fellow officers fire non-lethal foam bullets at a distraught Patterson in an attempt to separate Patterson from the shotgun he was holding. The bullets struck him and knocked him back, but he never dropped the gun. Deputy Wyman, whose role was to tase and disable Patterson, was already advancing, alone, into the garage where Patterson was holed up, holding only his taser and apparently unable to see what Phair could see.

"At that point, he's bringing the gun around towards us," said Phair on the witness stand. Seeing that, Phair said he pulled the trigger on the assault rifle he was holding. It was through tears that Phair told prosecutors what happened next.

"I immediately pulled the trigger on my weapon," said Phair.

"And what happened?" asked Prosecutor Laurie Lisi.

"Nothing," said Phair.

"Did your gun misfire?" asked Lisi?

Deputy Phair took a sip of water, clearly struggling, and replied, "yes."

A ballistics expert on the stand Thursday never addressed Phair's gun or why it malfunctioned, or even said whether or not she examined it. The defense asked Phair if he knew that those weapons had to be cleaned regularly or run the risk of being corroded. Deputy Phair replied that he was aware of that and that his weapon was last cleaned following a training exercise in the spring.

Deputy Dean Famolaro, a member of the Sheriff's Department emergency response team, also took the stand. Famolaro was one of two who fired the non-lethal bullets and Christian Patterson. He answered questions on the stand Thursday about whether there was a plan in place to diffuse the situation that June night.

"When I arrived there, I was told something by my captain," Famolaro said. "My captain told me - when the opportunity presented itself, release the less than lethal fire down range. I'm sure that Deputy Paul received the same instruction. At that point, everything flowed."

Captain Richard Antanavige, who was at the scene, took the stand late Thursday afternoon. Testimony continues Friday morning with more prosecution witnesses.

What's On