Judge upholds Waterloo murder indictment

Acting Seneca County Judge Rick Healy will not be dismissing or reducing any charges against a Varick man accused of killing two people in Waterloo this year.

In a decision filed Monday, Healy ruled that the grand jury indictment against Emerson “John” Tohafjian will stand going into his Dec. 3 trial.

During pretrial motions last week, Tohafjian’s attorney Frank Ciardi asked Healy to inspect the grand jury minutes. Ciardi also asked the judge to dismiss or reduce some of the counts.

Tohafjian faces counts of first-degree murder in the July 10 shooting deaths of Lori McConnell and Chuck Andrus in a Virginia Street apartment house. Karen Zdunko, a friend of both victims, was injured in the shooting.

Tohafjian also faces counts of assault, burglary, intimidating a victim or witness, criminal use of a firearm and criminal contempt. In his decision, Healy said he fully examined the grand jury minutes and exhibits in the case.

“The court finds the grand jury proceeding was not defective based upon any improper, incomplete or incorrect jury instructions, or upon any other defect in the proceeding. The grand jury was fully charged with respect to the principles of law that were required for this particular case,” the judge wrote. “Further, the court concludes that the evidence before the grand jury was legally sufficient to establish the offense charged and the defendant’s commission thereof. Dismissal of an indictment is an exceptional remedy, which this case does not warrant. Defendant’s motion to dismiss or reduce the indictment is denied in all respects.”

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