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DA says assault trial will proceed

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HUDSON—In a 42-page decision dated December 10, Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek dismissed several charges against the four defendants indicted in the July 2020 beating of Harold Handy of Kinderhook.

Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka told The Columbia Paper Tuesday, he will accept the judge’s ruling and go to trial with the charges as they now stand.

Mr. Czajka said he had three options, the other two were to appeal the judge’s decision or present the case to the grand jury again.

Mr. Handy, a local mechanic, was allegedly beaten in the early morning hours of July 5 during a Fourth of July party at the residence of Alex and Kelly Rosenstrach at 319 County Route 21 in Kinderhook. Mrs. Rosenstrach is a Sheriff’s deputy.

Columbia 911 dispatched Sheriff’s deputies to assist the Valatie Rescue Squad at the Rosenstrach residence July 5 at about 1:27 a.m. Deputies arrived on scene and found Mr. Handy was the victim of an assault. He was taken to Albany Medical Center by ambulance for further treatment of an eye injury.

Judge Koweek unsealed a grand jury indictment and arraigned the four defendants October 7, 2020 on the following charges:

•Alex Rosenstrach, 37, of Kinderhook, second-degree gang assault, a class C felony; second-degree assault, a class D felony; two counts of third-degree assault, class A misdemeanors; first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class E felony; third-degree coercion, a class A misdemeanor; second-degree reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor;

•Bryan Haag, 37, of Kinderhook, second-degree gang assault, a class C felony; second-degree assault, a class D felony; three counts third-degree assault, class A misdemeanors; first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class E felony;

•Cory Gaylord, 31, of Craryville, second-degree gang assault, a class C felony; two counts third-degree assault, class A misdemeanors; first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class E felony; third-degree coercion, a class A misdemeanor; second-degree reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor;

•Kelly Rosenstrach, 32, of Kinderhook, second-degree gang assault, a class C felony; three counts official misconduct, class A misdemeanors; third-degree coercion, a class A misdemeanor; first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a class E felony.

In his December 10 decision, Judge Koweek dismissed Count 1 of the 12-count indictment, second degree gang assault, a class C violent felony, against all four defendants. The charge alleged that all four defendants intended to and did cause serious physical injury to Mr. Handy with the aid of two or more other people.

He also dismissed Count 2, second degree assault, a class D violent felony, against Mr. Rosenstrach and Mr. Haag. The charge alleges that while acting in concert with each other, the two men intended and did cause serious physical injury to Mr. Handy.

Judge Koweek wrote that there is insufficient evidence to support the two counts, which also require proof of serious injury. According to medical information in the decision, Mr. Handy was found on the ground at the Rosenstrach home by a Valatie Rescue Squad paramedic “with a large hematoma over his left eye. Once in the ambulance, the paramedic sedated [Mr. Handy] because he became combative and seemed confused. This required him to be intubated. The paramedic stated that the victim’s condition was not life threatening. He was admitted to Albany Medical Center where an operation was performed to repair a left orbital and medial wall fracture on July 5, [2020]. He was discharged July 7, [2020],” with a recommendation to take two acetaminophen tablets every four hours as needed and schedule a follow-up visit with a physician in a couple of weeks.

After he left the hospital he subsequently had surgery to insert a “‘plate’ to cover the area where the operation was performed.”

The judge found that evidence presented to the grand jury was legally sufficient to support charges contained in Counts 3, 4 and 5 (all misdemeanor third degree assault), 6 (first degree imprisonment, a class E felony), 7 (third degree coercion, a misdemeanor), 11 (second degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor).

The judge also dismissed Counts 9 and 10 (both misdemeanor official misconduct) against Kelly Rosenstrach, writing there is insufficient evidence to sustain them. Mrs. Rosenstrach is still employed as a Sheriff’s deputy but is suspended with pay.

Pretrial hearings on the remaining charges will be held over two days consecutively starting April 4, 2022 at 9:15 a.m.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com

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