HUDSON—Two men who know Warren Powell testified this week that the defendant confessed to them that he killed his wife and unborn child. Both men have criminal records.
Mr. Powell, 38, a Valatie native, is charged with second degree murder in the death of his wife on or about October 1, 1994. The couple was living in Halfmoon, Saratoga County, at the time, and Mary Ann (Tasick) Powell, then 21, was six-months pregnant. Her body was discovered in the Hudson River in May 1996 by campers hiking near Gay’s Point in Stockport. She had been strangled to death and stuffed in a hockey bag weighed down with rocks.
Mr. Powell was convicted of the crime in August 1997, but the conviction was overturned on appeal in December 2004 due to an error by the judge during jury selection.
Joseph Hutton, 47, was flown to Columbia County from a Florida state prison, where he has 8 more years to serve following convictions of possession of cocaine and aggravated assault. According to Mr. Hutton, he was a friend of Mr. Powell’s, who visited him at his Schenectady residence on September 10, 1995. Assistant District Attorney David Costanzo, who is prosecuting the case along with H. Neal Conolly, questioned Mr. Hutton in Columbia County Court, Monday, April 13.
Mr. Hutton said he confided to Mr. Powell that he was having some problems with a woman, who would not leave him alone. Mr. Powell told him to “do like I did, just get rid of her,” said Mr. Hutton.
He said Mr. Powell told him he was having problems with his wife and that she was planning to leave him, “so he did her in.”
Mr. Hutton said he was not from the area and had no prior knowledge that Mrs. Powell was missing at the time.
During the course of his cross-examination of Mr. Hutton, defense attorney Stephen Coffey accused Mr. Hutton of not caring about what he had done wrong, saying that the witness told the many judges he had appeared before that he would change his ways. Mr. Coffey methodically questioned Mr. Hutton about every charge on his record and calculated that he had spent 20 of the last 30 years in prison and called him “a three-time loser.”
Mr. Hutton did not dispute his criminal record, recalling the circumstances of each crime, though he said that “no one was hurt, no one was touched.” In addition to admitting his crimes and acknowledging the length of his sentences, he said, “I make no apologies.”
When Mr. Coffey suggested that at the very least Mr. Hutton his willingness to testify had gotten Mr. Hutton a free flight to Columbia County as a respite from his Florida prison, Mr. Hutton noted with sarcasm that he was housed at a “raggedy little county jail,” where there was nothing to do. He much preferred his confinement in Florida.
Donald G. Boyle, now a maintenance mechanic with the Friehofer bakery, was in the Schenectady County Jail with Mr. Powell in May 1997. Mr. Boyle was doing 30 days for his third driving-while-intoxicated offense. Mr. Powell was in for suspicion of murder and drug sales. Mr. Boyle said he and another inmate he identified as “Indian Ray” were playing cards with Mr. Powell, when Mr. Powell blurted out without provocation, “I can’t believe I killed my own kid.”
Mr. Powell’s eyes welled up with tears following the statement, said Mr. Boyle, noting that he and Ray looked at each other, then they all continued playing cards.
Mr. Boyle did not contact police until three years ago about statement after learning that Mr. Powell’s first murder conviction had been overturned. “I had my own problems and did not want to get involved before,” said Mr. Boyle during cross-examination by Mr. Coffey.
In other testimony Monday, Columbia County Coroner Angelo Nero told the court about going to Gay’s Point in response to the call about a body in a hockey bag being found there Memorial Day weekend 1996. He said that the bag containing the human remains was not opened where it was found in the river, but rather was moved by boat to a more stable location on land at Stuyvesant Landing.
Randall Plass of Columbiaville, who has about 30 years of experience boating, fishing and duck hunting on the river, testified about the location of various places along the east shore of the river where boats could be launched. Mr. Plass was apparently called by the prosecution to tell about the Ferry Road/Newton Hook launch being closed in 2005.
The closure occurred many years after Mr. Powell might have allegedly launched a boat there and Mrs. Powell’s body was found south of there at Gay’s Point. But Mr. Plass’ recollection, even after being shown the 2005 state Department of Environmental Conservation work order that the launch be blocked off, was that the site was closed in the early 1990s, making it nearly impossible for Mr. Powell to have launched his boat there anytime between 1994 and 1996.
Testimony was scheduled to continue Tuesday, April 14, at 10 a.m.