Sullivan County Democrat
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Contributed Photo

THIS IS A police file photo of Ronald Caruso, who allegedly killed Gary Kays on Tuesday.

Caruso Facing
Life in Prison

By Dan Hust
CALLICOON — September 4, 2001 – With the capture of 18-year-old Ronald Caruso of Callicoon, a suspect in the deaths of 30-year-old Gary Kays of Callicoon and 19-year-old Luke Leborgne of Quebec, the legal wheels have been set in motion in two different counties and amongst a host of law authorities.
Caruso is suspected by police of having shot and killed Kays, a local firefighter and Caruso’s step-uncle, on Tuesday, August 28, after being AWOL from a Kansas Army base for nearly a week.
Reportedly, Kays did not immediately die of his wounds and was able to name his killer – Caruso – before he passed away.
After the killing, Caruso allegedly stole his step-grandfather’s car and headed north toward the Canadian border. He made it as far as an Interstate 87 rest stop near Westport on the shore of Lake Champlain, said Sullivan County Sheriff Dan Hogue, who’s department was the lead agency in the hundreds-strong force that searched for Caruso for two days.
There, he allegedly shot and killed Leborgne, a Quebec native, and stole his car, leaving Leborgne’s body inside the initial getaway vehicle. State Police discovered the dead man around 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
By 3 p.m. that same day, Caruso had been captured by State Police in the Village of Franklin in northern Delaware County, near Oneonta. The arrest was peaceful, and Caruso was transported to State Police barracks in Sidney.
Later that evening, said Hogue, he was taken back up to Essex County, where he was arraigned on a charge of murder in the second degree and sent to the county jail without bail. The Essex County District Attorney’s office is working on that part of the case, said Hogue.
Sometime this week or next, said Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen on Friday, Caruso will be returned to Sullivan County and charged with another count of murder in the second degree, among other charges.
A grand jury will be convened to determine the exact indictments, he explained.
Since it is murder in the second degree and not the first degree, Caruso – if convicted – is currently facing a maximum sentence of life in prison instead of the death penalty.
Both Hogue and Lungen were well pleased with the work of all involved in this case.
“We had a cast of hundreds,” said Hogue. “The cooperation was fantastic.”
“You had multiple jurisdictions involved here – State Police Troops B, C, and F; the Delaware and Sullivan counties’ Sheriffs’ Departments; and two district attorneys’ offices,” added Lungen. “It was a well-run operation.”

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