Graphic testimony in murder trial of Jason D'Avolio

Jurors on Thursday saw murder defendant, Jason D'Avolio, walk through the Rome Price Chopper parking lot, through the store to the cleaning aisle, where he bought Clorox and Febreeze products.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 5:22 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 5:38 PM

UTICA, N.Y. -- Jurors on Thursday saw murder defendant, Jason D'Avolio, walk through the Rome Price Chopper parking lot, through the store to the cleaning aisle, where he bought Clorox and Febreeze products. A few of Price Chopper's 120 security cameras captured the video, which was played on a courtroom monitor, Thursday.

It was about 3:30 a.m., July 29 of last year. D'Avolio, later that day, would tell police he had no idea where his wife was, then inexplicably change his story to say he discovered her body in their Belmont Street home, in Rome, after she'd shot herself, using a long gun he'd bought earlier in the year. He is charged with her murder. D'Avolio paid cash for the cleaning products. Only the fact that he used an advantage discount card tied him to the purchase.

Late Thursday morning, the most difficult and tragic testimony, as a Rome Police investigator lead jurors on a journey from the Belmont Street house, to the dumpster where D'Avolio said he put his estranged wife's body, to an Oneida/Herkimer Solid Waste transfer station, and, ultimately, to the Ava Landfill.

"The director from the Oneida Herkimer Waste said that the information he had learned may have indicated that the trailer which the body may have been placed in during processing that day may have already gone up to the Ava Landfill," said Sgt. Sypniewski, from the witness stand.

Next, the investigator described how officers, some already on duty, some called back in and others who'd stayed past their shift, sifted through trailers of garbage, in the late-July heat, at the Ava Landfill. Trailers were chosen based on their routes and what dumpsters' contents they'd collected. The first trailer they searched: nothing. The second revealed the heartbreaking subject of their search, almost immediately.

"We began offloading the contents of the second trailer. And I would say within the first five minutes, a body came out of the trailer," said Sypniewski. "This body had a red...what appared to be a red bed sheet wrapped around a portion of the body." Sypniewski remembers the time: 10:12 a.m., July 30, 2019.

Kerrilee D'Avolio's parents left the courtroom. The judge warned jurors about what the were about to see.

"You many find some of these photographs or images graphic and unpleasant. When you view these images, please do your best to do so calmly and without emotion," said the Hon. Michael L. Dwyer. 

Officers were able to identify the remains as those of Kerrilee D'Avolio through a distinct wrist tattoo. They saw that she'd suffered severe trauma to her head. They called the Onondaga County Medical Examiner, waiting an hour and a half for them to arrive and preserve the body for autopsy.

The medical examiner's testimony is yet to come. More prosecution witnesses will take the stand starting at 9:30 a.m., Friday morning. The trial could take up to three weeks.

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