Waterloo double murder trial set to begin on Friday

The trial of a Varick man accused of killing two people and injuring another over the summer begins Friday in Seneca County Court.

Emerson “John” Tohafjian, 48, faces multiple first-degree murder charges in the July 10 shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Lori McConnell, and Chuck Andrus. Karen Zdunko, Andrus’ girlfriend, was injured.

Tohafjian also faces charges of assault, burglary, intimidating a victim or witness, criminal use of a firearm, and criminal contempt. District Attorney Barry Porsch, who is prosecuting the case, said the witness in the intimidating charge was McConnell, the victim in two previous arrests of Tohafjian.

Police said McConnell and Zdunko had been dropped off at a Virginia Street apartment house by a taxi after they were at a local bar, and Tohafjian was waiting for them outside and hiding in some bushes. Police said Tohafjian followed the women inside, shot McConnell, Zdunko and Andrus, then left the scene.

Police later learned Tohafjian was staying at a campground in Phelps and went there about five hours after the shootings. Crisis negotiators talked to him for about three hours before he surrendered.

Police said Tohafjian had self-inflicted cuts to his neck and wrist when he was taken into custody. He was taken by medical helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where he was arrested after he was discharged.

The owner of the campground later said Tohafjian was staying there illegally.

Police have not recovered the gun they believe Tohafjian used in the shootings. Authorities previously said it was a shotgun.

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