Photo Courtesy Sheriff’s Office
A GRAND JURY returned charges of second degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide against Joe Naughton of Callicoon.
Joe Naughton indicted
By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO May 9, 2008 A grand jury has determined there’s enough evidence to send the April 13 shooting death of a Callicoon waitress to criminal court.
After a presentation of the evidence that spilled over into a second day for the Sullivan County grand jury, charges were filed Wednesday morning against Joe Naughton.
The 64-year-old appeared at his arraignment pleading not guilty to felony charges of manslaughter in the second degree and criminally negligent homicide.
The indictment filed with the Sullivan County Court Clerk’s Office alleges Naughton “did recklessly cause the death of Lori Schubeler by shooting her in the upper left chest with a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol, causing a bullet wound to her lung, aorta and bronchus.”
Naughton and his family were shaken by the grand jury’s decision, said his attorney, Jacqueline Ricciani, and it’s only compounded their grief.
“Obviously no one’s happy he was indicted, but it’s difficult for me to kind of separate the feelings,” Ricciani said. “They’ve been quite upset since the day it happened.
“Lori was not just an employee to the Naughtons,” she continued. “She was someone they were very fond of.”
The manslaughter charge is a Class C non-violent felony. If a jury in criminal court were to convict Naughton of the charge, he could face a maximum of 5 to 15 years in prison.
The lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, carries a maximum sentence of 11⁄3 to 4 years.
Neither charge mandates jail time at sentencing, carrying the possibility of probation.
Naughton has also been charged with two misdemeanors for possession of the gun used in the shooting and a second, .32 caliber, semi-automatic pistol without valid permits. Those charges carry maximum sentences of less than a year.
“No matter what happens with the criminal case, this is something he’s going to have to live with the rest of his life,” Ricciani said.
“This is a tragic, terrible accident,” she continued. “He feels terrible.”
The details of the incident are still unclear grand jury testimony is sealed.
What’s known is that three people were present at the time of shooting Schubeler, Naughton and an unidentified person.
The incident occurred in the tap room portion of the hotel and restaurant at closing time, just past midnight on Sunday morning.
The bar was shut down for the day by police and kept closed for the week after Schubeler’s death, but Naughton has since reopened the restaurant he’s operated since the late 1960s.
As is their custom, the family will expand to summer hours after Memorial Day, Ricciani said.
“He’s also responsible for employing a number of people,” she noted. “If he doesn’t open, those people don’t have jobs.”
Out on his own recognizance, Naughton has until Monday to post a $100,000 property bond.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jim Farrell said Naughton declined a breathalyzer on the morning of the incident.
There is no accurate assessment of his blood alcohol content, but Farrell said it would not be useful as a means of defense.
“The law defines reckless conduct as follows: A person acts recklessly with respect to a result when he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur,” Farrell said. “And a person who creates a risk but is unaware of it by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to his conduct.
“So, voluntary intoxication is not a defense to a reckless act under New York law.”