By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO March 26, 2002 Capping off a week of sometimes gruesome testimony, the jury in Callicoon resident Ronald Carusos murder trial Thursday evening handed down a guilty verdict in the slaying of 30-year-old Gary Kays in late August.
The 18-year-old murderer was found guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree, along with two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree criminally using a firearm, two counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and one count each of third-degree burglary and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.
The trial lasted only a week, but it was filled with details of Kays agonizing death, including his final cries for help with 911 operators the night of August 28. In the tape of that conversation a rare type of admissable testimony in this kind of a trial Kays clearly identified the man who shot him two times as his nephew, Ronald Caruso, who lived just down the road from Kays in the Beechwoods section of Callicoon.
Kays, the captain of the Hortonville Fire Department and a milk trucker by trade, died at his home that night, with his parents and emergency workers next to him.
Already AWOL from the Army, Caruso fled the scene in Kays fathers car and headed north. He eventually ended up at a rest stop near Plattsburgh on Interstate 87 in Essex County, where he allegedly killed a young Canadian with the same gun he used on Kays. State Police say that Caruso then headed back south with the Canadians car, and he was caught by a trooper in the Delaware County village of Franklin several days after Kays death.
Caruso faces another murder trial in Essex County shortly. His sentencing in Sullivan County will also occur shortly. He could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.