MAYVILLE – Mary Taglianetti was vigilant about deleting the sexually explicit emails she had exchanged with Clymer School Superintendent Keith L. Reed Jr., a man with whom she had a brief affair two years earlier while she and her husband were separated.
Uncharacteristically, she missed erasing one of the emails last September, and when Anthony R. “Rob” Taglianetti discovered it, he clearly wasn’t happy.
He sent out several of his own angry emails to Reed, warning him to back away from any communication with his wife.
Then, prosecutors say, Taglianetti, 43, packed up his bags in his Virginia home and drove 350 miles to Clymer, where he shot Reed three times, leaving him for dead in a row of thick shrubs and trees near Reed’s country home Sept. 21, 2012.
Testimony in Taglianetti’s trial on a second-degree murder charge opened Tuesday in Chautauqua County Court, with District Attorney David W. Foley explaining how the lone email enraged the former Marine corporal to the point that he hunted down Reed and killed him.
“This single email resulted in the shooting death of Keith Reed,” Foley said in his opening statement to the jury of seven men and five women.
Taglianetti “took matters into his own hands,” Foley added. “He sought out Keith Reed and shot him to death.”
The last person to see Reed was his friend Ilmar Filhaber, who he met for dinner at about 7:30 p.m.
Neighbors heard two or three gunshots in the area of Reed’s home around 9 o’clock that night.
Foley said Taglianetti drove through the night and returned home to Virginia on Saturday as if nothing happened.
He took his son to a local museum as he had promised earlier, and went to bed as usual that evening.
Many of Reed’s family and friends showed up in the courtroom to get a glimpse of Taglianetti and hear the first day of testimony in what is expected to be a salacious trial.
Reed’s daughter, Allison, 21, was among a dozen people who testified Monday, and she gave a tearful recounting of the final lunch she had with her father at a brew pub in Fredonia, just hours before his death.
Taglianetti wore a navy sport coat and tie with khaki pants and thick-rimmed glasses and discussed strategy at times with his defense attorney, public defender Nathaniel L. Barone.
The stunning murder of Reed, 51, shocked the small farming community of Clymer, where he was well-known and well-liked.
It was Mary Taglianetti who alerted authorities to the possibility that her husband might have killed Reed. She learned of Reed’s death two days after his body was found and called police.
When authorities arrested Taglianetti near Shenandoah Valley National Park in Virginia a week after the homicide, they found a paper copy of the lone lurid email wrapped around the case to a .357 Magnum handgun, Foley said.
In his opening statement, Barone disputed the prosecution’s version of events and portrayed Taglianetti as a hardworking and committed family man who continued to work through problems typical in any marriage.
In 2010, Mary Taglianetti separated from her husband and moved with their four children to Saratoga Springs, where within two months she signed up for Match.com, an online dating site, Barone said.
It was there that she connected with Reed, and the two met in person for dinner.
“They go to dinner, and what did they do? They spend the night together, a nice way of saying they got involved sexually immediately,” Barone said.
The relationship continued largely in the form of explicit text messages, emails and phone conversations for several months, before Mary Taglianetti decided to return to her husband in Virginia.
She told him about the affair and her husband remained committed to their marriage, according to Barone.
“Well, Mary decides at some point in 2011 to begin another, for lack of a better term, online relationship with a man from North Carolina,” the defense attorney said. “She’s doing the same thing she did previously. Rob finds out about that. What does he do? He doesn’t do anything. He wants to work on the relationship.”
Barone said the prosecution’s email theory was too pat an explanation for what happened.
“This is not a story of an affair gone wrong or a crazed husband seeking justice,” he said. “It’s not as simple as Rob Taglianetti driving up and killing Keith Reed because of an email. That’s not what happened. … Rob Taglianetti as he sits there is innocent. Rob Taglianetti did not murder Keith Reed Jr.”
Barone characterized Mary Taglianetti as a “master manipulator” and urged jurors to weigh her testimony carefully.
“When she takes that stand, you need to be extremely vigilant in what she tells you and what she doesn’t tell you, because what the evidence will show you is that Mary Taglianetti is a liar,” he said.
Foley cautioned jurors to look past Barone’s efforts to put the victim and Mary Taglianetti on trial for past indiscretions. Authorities, he said, had ample evidence for Taglianetti to be convicted. The gun used in the shooting, for example, had Taglianetti’s DNA and Reed’s blood on it, Foley said.
“Unfortunately, in our society, infidelity is not uncommon,” he said. “However, we cannot condone the killing of an individual for their involvement with a married woman.”
Opening statements were followed by about four hours of testimony from Reed’s neighbors and colleagues and several sheriff’s deputies.
Reed’s school colleagues reported him missing Sept. 23, 2012 when he did not show up for a conference in Saratoga Springs and could not be reached by cellphone. Clymer Principal Edward A. Bailey became concerned as early as Sept. 22, when he noticed both of Reed’s vehicles parked in the yard, despite Reed having told him he was leaving for the conference early that morning.
Bailey checked inside an unlocked door and found Reed’s dog, Jack, inside the garage. He later searched the house with the School Board president.
Upon the filing of the missing-person’s report, the Sheriff’s Office sought the location of Reed’s cellphone through provider AT&T. The phone was located in Harrisburg, Pa.
Reed’s body was found at about 9 a.m. Sept. 24 by Deputy Bryan Burmaster in a hedgerow on Reed’s property on Clymer-Sherman Road.
His body was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where deputies found a small bullet in the left sleeve of his shirt. The bullet was taken into evidence.