MAYVILLE – Over the course of seven days, jurors in the murder trial of Anthony “Rob” Taglianetti heard from 44 prosecution witnesses and considered hundreds of photographs, emails and other items submitted as evidence – including the handgun that prosecutors say was used to kill Clymer Central School Superintendent Keith L. Reed Jr. in 2012.
But is it enough proof for them to convict Taglianetti, a 43-year-old former Marine, of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Reed?
Or, did Taglianetti’s lead attorney, Nathaniel L. Barone, create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury of seven men and five women?
Barone called just two witnesses, both of them law enforcement officials who testified to the presence of weapons inside Reed’s Clymer home and vehicles on Sept. 24, 2012, the day Reed’s body was found in a hedgerow on the property with three bullet wounds.
Today, Barone and Chautauqua County District Attorney David W. Foley are scheduled to deliver their final remarks, after which jurors will begin deliberating about Taglianetti’s guilt or innocence.
“That’s when we’ll try to bring everything together,” Barone said Thursday after resting his case without putting Taglianetti on the stand. “It’s your opportunity to discuss with the jury where you think you’re at in this matter.”
Taglianetti is accused of shooting Reed, a divorced father of three daughters, once in the chest and twice in the back sometime around 9 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2012.
Barone maintained in his opening arguments that while prosecutors may have a theory of what happened in the death of Reed, it doesn’t mean the theory is correct.
He also urged jurors to “hold the government to their heavy burden of proof.”
The scintillating trial featured crucial testimony from Mary Taglianetti, the defendant’s wife, who was involved in an online romance with Reed.
Foley used her testimony to help establish a motive: Rob Taglianetti discovered a sexually graphic email exchange between Reed and his wife, and became so enraged he drove 350 miles from his Woodbridge, Va., home to shoot the superintendent.
Mary Taglianetti, who had a brief tryst with Reed in 2010, explained how she became “panicky” when she learned of his death and called police to report that her husband might have been involved.
In his opening remarks, Barone accused Mary Taglianetti of being a “master manipulator,” and he spent hours cross-examining her in an attempt to show she wasn’t believable.
No matter what jurors made of Mary Taglianetti and her riveting testimony, though, they had plenty of other evidence to consider:
• Clymer Central School District secretaries told of Taglianetti’s visit to the school on Sept. 21, 2012, asking for Reed – accounts supported by school security videotape.
• A crime scene specialist explained how she located a .357 Magnum handgun in a case underneath the driver’s seat of Taglianetti’s Buick Century, which was seized by law enforcement officials who arrested Taglianetti in a remote Virginia forest.
• Forensic experts said they found Reed’s blood and DNA on the barrel of the revolver, and Taglianetti’s DNA on its cylinder.
• A Chautauqua County sheriff’s investigator recounted how he retrieved a wadded piece of paper at the crime scene, just a few yards from Reed’s body. The crumpled paper turned out to be an ATM receipt from Taglianetti’s checking account, potentially putting the defendant at the scene.
• A computer forensic expert explained how he discovered a receipt for a one-way flight booked for Taglianetti, a father of four, to fly on Oct. 12, 2012, from Dulles Airport outside Washington , D.C., to Tel Aviv, Israel.
Despite the evidence against him, Taglianetti has never confessed to the crime, and no one testified that they witnessed Taglianetti shoot Reed, or even that Taglianetti was seen at the Reed home. Taglianetti’s fingerprints weren’t found at the crime scene, either.
Barone also was able to establish through his cross-examination of the medical examiner who did an autopsy that the exact time of Reed’s death was unknown. Reed was last seen around 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2012, and his body wasn’t found until the morning of Sept. 24, 2012.
Taglianetti was in Virginia the morning of Sept. 22, according to his wife’s testimony and cellphone records.