Attorney for Alec Champagne says teen didn't mean to kill two year old

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - It's been five months since two-year old Melissa Calhoun was killed while in the care of her 13 year old babysitter.

That young babysitter, Alec Champagne, a 7th grade middle school student in Whitesboro, is charged with her murder. Champagne's murder trial was supposed to begin Monday morning, but the prosecution and defense asked for more time to discuss the specific charges.

Oneida County Court Judge Barry Donalty granted the motion and set the new trial date to be January 18.

Champagne was watching two year old Melissa Calhoun in the Calhoun's Yorkville home back in June. Investigators say the teen not only physically assaulted Melissa repeatedly, including hitting her head with the refrigerator door, but they say he also sexually assaulting her as well.

Investigators say Melissa's mother found the girl unresponsive the next morning.

Champagne is charged as a Juvenile Offender, a separate section of the law that allows a person of his age to be brought into adult criminal court, although the sentencing is different for a juvenile offender than it is for an adult offender.

As far as why the two sides needed more time before a trial could begin, the specifics weren't discussed much Monday, but both parties told reporters after the court proceeding that part of their concern involves the specific charge of "murder in the second-degree" - acting with depraved indifference to human life and recklessly causing the death of another.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Coluzza says he believes the boy did act with depraved indifference.

"What I personally believe does not ultimately determine the case," he added. "What we look at, and evaluate in the case, is what a jury will reasonably believe and what an appellate court will reasonably believe when they review the case, in the event there is a conviction."

The legal definition of depraved indifference, is such that the defendant's conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy, as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.

Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant's conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.

"At this point, we're continuing to discuss the case and research the law," Coluzza said when asked whether charges could be changed and those new charges brought back again before a new grand jury. "I wouldn't rule out any possibilities in this case, however I can't comment on anything or speculate on what might come down the road."

Champagne's defense attorney, Les Lewis, believes in his heart that Calhoun did not intend to kill Melissa.

"Under no circumstances do I believe that he intended for the result in this case to have happened," Lewis said.

Lewis added that he has gotten to know Alec Champagne pretty well since he has taken his case.

"I know my client, we've spent a lot of time together," Lewis said. "I like him. I think he's a well mannered, sincere, well behaved and studious type of young man, and I understand what happened in this case, and it's a double tragedy, not only for the little girl that passed away, but it's a tragedy for my client also."

If convicted on the second-degree murder charge, Alec Champagne could face up to nine years to life in prison.

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