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Appeal rejected, Muller stays in jail

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ALBANY–William H. Muller, Jr.’s appeal of his convictions on two counts of first degree murder was rejected by the State Supreme Court, Appellate Division Third Judicial Department, April 22.

Mr. Muller murdered his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Dennis Lynch, 56, and Carolyn Lynch, 54, in their home on Upper Cady Road in Chatham the night of June 27, 2006. He entered the house and shot both Mr. and Mrs. Lynch with a 12-gauge shotgun. He was convicted by a jury after six hours of deliberation April 17, 2007.

On June 19, 2007, Columbia County Judge Jonathan Nichols sentenced Mr. Muller, then 40, to the maximum sentence allowed by law: life in prison without parole on each murder court, the terms to run concurrently.

Attorney Mitch Kessler of Cohoes filed the appeal on Mr. Muller’s behalf, based on four arguments, all of which were rejected by the appeals court.

The primary issue raised by Mr. Muller in his appeal was that the county court erred by precluding him from asserting as a trial defense that he was acting under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the shootings.

Judge Nichols decided not to allow the “extreme emotional disturbance” defense, also called an affirmative defense, because Mr. Muller, who was defended at the trial by Marco Caviglia of Wappingers Falls, did not properly file notice of this defense as required by statute and later refused to comply with conditions established by the court that would have permitted him to assert the defense despite the defects in his notice.

The appellate judges wrote that Mr. Muller not only filed an untimely and inadequate notice of the extreme disturbance defense, but during the time leading up to the trial he repeatedly ignored legitimate requests by the prosecution, represented by Columbia County District Attorney Beth Cozzolino, for more information regarding the specifics of the psychiatric defense.

Judge Nichols “made a measured effort to balance the prosecution’s need for this information with the defendant’s right to offer this defense at trial. Given this context, [the judge’s] decision to put in place certain conditions that had to be met for the defendant to be relieved from the defects contained in his notice represented a sound exercise of the court’s discretion, and defendant’s failure to comply with these conditions left the court with no choice but to preclude him from asserting this affirmative defense.”

Christie Lynch, Mr. Muller’s former wife, who was staying with her parents along with her young son when the murders occurred and who testified against Mr. Muller at trial, told The Columbia Paper April 28 that though it has been four years since Mr. Muller killed her parents, she and her family are still trying to learn how to live their lives without them.

She said she and her family are thankful to the investigators and District Attorney for all their hard work and while the rejection of the appeal by the appellate court is a victory, “it does not bring back Mom and Dad.”  She said she is thankful that Mr. Muller will be in prison for the rest of his life.

Ms. Lynch and her son live with family members in northern Columbia County.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@ColumbiaPaper.com

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