The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local News

September 19, 2007

RUTHERFORD TRIAL: Closing arguments offered, jury still out

ALBION — Over the course of the past two weeks, jurors have heard the testimonies of 18 witnesses in the people’s case against Paul Rutherford Sr.

Currently on trial for the 1986 slaying of Randy Neal, Rutherford, 55, formerly of Barker, was charged with second-degree murder in July 2006. Testimonies concluded Monday with defense attorney Fonda Dawn Kubiak reading into the record prior testimonies of witnesses such as Neal’s grand jury testimonies against members of the Ayrhart family and Neal’s attorney, Curtis Lyman.

Wednesday, the defense and prosecution gave closing statements. The jury was instructed by Judge Robert Noonan on the charges and the law. They commenced deliberations at approximately 3 p.m.

Defense attorney Angelo Musitano was the first to give closing statements.

“There was no physical evidence that ties Mr. Rutherford to the scene,” Musitano said to the jury. “This case is all about false accusations. If you really analyze the evidence, you will see there isn’t any evidence to prove this man guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

According to Musitano, the sole issue in the case is, “Did he commit this murder?” using the knife found in the cistern at the Ayrhart residence on Sept. 30, 1986.

“Rely on the quality or lack of proof,” he said.

In grand jury testimonies Neal was given a voice for the court. According to the testimony against Darren and David Ayrhart, on March 29, 1986, the brothers went to the Neal home with the purposes of intimidating him, saying if Neal testified against June Ayrhart he would “never breathe again.”

“Those are Randy’s words that he left for us,” Musitano said. “You also heard (in Curtis Lyman’s testimony) Randy received a death threat from Harry. These are words that Randy left for you to hear, ladies and gentlemen.”

According to Musitano, Neal, Rutherford and Harry Ayrhart were involved in selling marijuana, and Harry Ayrhart’s testimony that they did so three to four times a week was to establish motive.

Text Only
Local News