LOCKPORT – During a conference of more than an hour Thursday to decide what instructions to give the jury in Marc A. Madore’s attempted-murder trial, Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas exclaimed, “They’re going to be so confused!”
It appeared that the judge was spot-on.
About half an hour after starting deliberations, the jury sent in a note asking for Farkas to repeat the definitions of the crimes with which Madore is charged, or to provide them in writing. Before she could do so, another note was received asking her to supply the written version only.
“There really isn’t an ability to give it to you in writing, but I’ll read it to you as often as you want to hear it,” Farkas told the 12-member jury. She took 20 minutes to repeat the definitions and then sent the jury home for the night.
Defense attorney Patrick M. Balkin said he wouldn’t consent to giving the jury the written instructions. He said he has talked with jurors who misinterpreted the instructions even when they were able to read them.
Deliberations will resume this morning in the case of Madore, 42, of South Avenue, Niagara Falls, who is charged with trying to kill a friend, Shawn Stoltz, 37, in a drunken knife fight on the night of Oct. 28 in front of the victim’s home on Ferry Avenue in the Falls.
The charges are attempted murder, first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The jury was given the option of choosing reckless second-degree assault instead of intentional first-degree assault.
The instructions also included the law on self-defense, on how to take intoxication into account, and on whether Madore might have been holding the knife legally.
Stoltz was stabbed in the head, back, chest and abdomen, but managed to walk to nearby Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, leaving a trail of blood behind him.
The summation by Assistant District Attorney Claudette S. Caldwell featured a photo of the blood-soaked Stoltz lying on a hospital gurney with assorted tubes inserted into his body.
“How did it start? Over a can of purple spray paint. Nobody said it had to make sense,” Caldwell told the jurors.
Testimony by Madore and Stoltz referred to the odor of spray paint Madore had used to paint a chair on the front porch at the request of his sister, who was living at the Ferry Avenue address. Both men also said they drank numerous beers, and Stoltz said he used crack cocaine, too.
Madore, pleading self-defense, said he was cut on the arm by a knife held by Stoltz as he tried to walk through the front yard gate. Stoltz said he merely hit Madore and didn’t have a knife.
Madore said the two men were struggling over the knife when Stoltz was stabbed. A neighbor testified that she never saw a knife in Stoltz’s hand and thought Madore got it by pulling it out of Stoltz’s pants pocket, knowing that Stoltz always carried a knife.
Balkin told the jury that Stoltz had a reputation for violence, having beaten up Madore the previous month. “It isn’t who was hurt worse. It was who started this with a deadly weapon,” Balkin argued. “Marc Madore was justified in defending himself with deadly force.”
But Caldwell said, “This case is not about self-defense. This case is not about justification. This case is about rage. It’s about Marc Madore getting mad enough at Shawn Stoltz to kill him.”
Near the end of her summation, the prosecutor asked, “Why would you be stabbing someone if you weren’t trying to kill him?”