William Demagall to get third trial after murder conviction overturned


ALBANY, N.Y. -- William Demagall, twice convicted and sentenced in the brutal 2006 murder of retired school teacher George Mancini in Hillsdale, will get a third trial.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court on Thursday overturned Demagall's second-degree murder conviction, the Albany Times-Union reported. In 2011, he was handed a term of 25 years to life by Judge Jonathan Nichols in the Columbia County Courthouse in Hudson.

The appellate court also had overturned Demagall's original 2007 conviction on the same charge, prompting the second trial and conviction. The court reversed that conviction, ruling that prohibited medical testimony should have been included in the first trial.

Demagall, 30, has a history of hospitalization at mental health facilities, including at Berkshire Medical Center's Jones III psychiatric unit in Pittsfield. Demagall, who lived in the Southfield section of New Marlborough at the time of the killing, escaped from the unit less than two days before killing Mancini in February 2006.

Mancini, 56, was stabbed more than 30 times, according to testimony, and bludgeoned with a paperweight, and Demagall then set the victim on fire inside his Hillsdale home.

Defense attorney Richard Mott, in arguing for a verdict of insanity, which was rejected, said Demagall was delusional -- thinking he was a wizard from the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, and that he lacked the mental capacity to know or appreciate the immorality of his crime.

A Columbia County jury found Demagall guilty of murder a second time in November 2010. County prosecutor David Costanzo urged the judge to make Demagall serve the maximum sentence for second-degree murder -- 25 years to life.

Costanzo could not be reached Thursday for comment on the appellate ruling.

According to the Times-Union report, the appellate justices determined that among "various errors" during the second trial, Judge Nichols wrongly allowed prosecutors to present hearsay testimony from a psychiatrist who briefly examined Demagall.

Information from the Albany Times-Union was included in this report.


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