By HEATHER NELLIS
FONDA -- An Amsterdam man was acquitted by a Montgomery County jury Friday in a stabbing case in which another man nearly died in 2012.
Gregory LaVallo, 23, of 164 Guy Park Ave., was found not guilty of first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Police say LaVallo stabbed someone several times in the chest and leg during an early morning altercation outside of a vehicle on Wesleyan Avenue Oct. 4, 2012.
The victim nearly died, authorities said. He was transported to Albany Medical Center because of the severity of his wounds.
LaVallo admitted to stabbing the victim eight times, said District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy, who prosecuted the case. The wounds were described by a doctor as life-threatening, and the victim subsequently spent 12 days in a hospital.
"But when the victim testified, he testified that it took place while he was kicking the something-or-other out of [LaVallo]," Conboy said. "The jury had his testimony read back during their deliberations, and five minutes later, they had their verdict."
State penal code says one is guilty of first-degree assault when with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, caused such injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
Criminal possession of a weapon is committed when any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon is used unlawfully against another person.
"There's no doubt about the fact that the defendant stabbed the victim eight times. The defendant admitted that. But the defendant raised the defense of justification," Conboy said. "An essential element of each charge was that the defendant was not justified. Once the jury was able to find justification, both charges fall."
Conboy believes his case was limited because the main witness "who would have been able to best describe the case, is dead. And, the jury never did hear [LaVallo] was involved in a stabbing some years earlier."
LaVallo was represented by attorney Cheryl Coleman of Albany. She could not be reached by press time.