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Manager of NJ Jewelry store takes stand in robbery and officer murder trial

By JOLEEN FERRIS

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WKTV) - Tuesday began with opening arguments, then witness testimony in the conspiracy trial of three New Jersey men accused in the murder of New Hartford Police Officer Joseph Corr, the robbery of Lennon's W.B. Wilcox Jewelers in New Hartford and the robbery of a New Jersey jewelry store.

Toussaint Davis, Robert Ward and Marion Pegese are being tried in Federal Court in Syracuse because they're accused of crossing state lines to commit the crimes. Davis was already tried and convicted in Oneida County Court, but Pegese and Ward haven't faced charges until now. This case involves not only details of the crimes that took place in New Hartford, but the Freehold, New Jersey, robbery as well.

Tuesday's first witness was the former manager of Ballew Jewelers in New Jersey.  Karen Stout Levin testified that the men who robbed the store put duct tape around her legs and wrists and carried her to the basement. The woman testified that she told one of the suspects that the store's surveillance system wasn't working because there was no tape or disc inside it, knowing that video was indeed being fed to a remote hard drive. The entire robbery was captured, and a video of it shown today in court.  Also today, two investigators from the Monmouth County, New Jersey District Attorney's Office took the stand.
     
Pegese and Ward have pleaded guilty to the Freehold robbery and are serving prison time for it.  Their attorneys are suggesting that they were targeted in the New Hartford robbery and murder of Officer Corr because they committed a similar crime in New Jersey, and because of tremendous community pressure to solve the crimes, and to show that law enforcement 'take care of their own'.  Prosecutors say that technology in this case, primarily cell phone tower records and video surveillance, will provide unmistakable proof that the defendants committed both crimes.

There are 87 potential witnesses in this case. Add the fact that four attorneys have to question and cross - examine them and the trial could take three weeks or longer.

The defendants face life in prison without parole if convicted.

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