MALONE — Before he was sent to state prison for 14 years, Daniel DeCarlo cried and apologized for trying to kill a sleeping man with a crowbar.
In his recent appearance in Franklin County Court, DeCarlo, 29, of Sandalwood Way, Plattsburgh, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and first-degree gang assault for the June 26, 2011, home invasion that severely injured Jeffrey Durant, 32, of Duane Street Road, Malone.
Durant was dating DeCarlo’s ex-girlfriend.
In a victim-impact statement read aloud by District Attorney Derek Champagne, Durant said DeCarlo and two accomplices broke into his home about 5 a.m. “with no other intention but to kill me.”
Durant said he was “brutally struck with a crowbar, beer bottle and fists. My shoulder, back, face and head were all struck multiple times.”
He suffered a 3½-inch skull fracture, 55 stitches to his forehead and back of his head, a broken nose and a severely bruised shoulder, which does not allow him to participate in sports and other athletic activities he used to enjoy.
“Although many of these wounds have healed, many other wounds will be with me forever,” he wrote. “I had to sell my home. Beyond the physical and material damage is the mental damage.
“It has been over a year since the attack, and when alone, I still sleep with a light on,” the victim said. “I wake up several times throughout the night and constantly wonder what is behind every door and around every corner.”
Judge Robert G. Main Jr. called the attack “cold, calculated, callous criminal conduct” before sending DeCarlo to prison.
But Public Defender Thomas Soucia said DeCarlo “was a completely different person” from the man arrested in 2011 because he is not using alcohol and is no longer taking the illicit drugs that got him into trouble.
Champagne acknowledged that DeCarlo’s demeanor and defiant attitude have “changed 180 degrees” since the preliminary hearing and said that at the sentencing, which took place earlier than had been scheduled, he broke down.
“He sobbed and cried and said he was sorry to the community and the victim,” the DA said. “He’s a changed guy.”
But DeCarlo must still serve time for the crimes he committed, Champagne said.
The two accomplices, Brendon Collins, 20, and Todd Knudson, 20, both of Plattsburgh, had agreed to testify against DeCarlo, who was a confidential police informant before his arrest.
Collins is expected to be sentenced Sept. 10 to six years in state prison, but a court date has not been set for Knudson, who agreed to a prison term not to exceed 2 1/3 to seven years.
THREATS BY TEXT
Champagne said DeCarlo had sent Durant text messages for three weeks that grew in intensity and anger as time went on.
It started with a warning to “stay away from my girl” then moved on to “stay away from her, or I’ll hurt you” then to “stay away from her, or I’ll kill you,” the DA said.
“Over a three-week period, the rage escalated, and it’s well documented,” he said. “Until finally it was, “If I can’t have her, you won’t either. She’s mine,’ and seeing the woman as an object.”
Police investigators said the trio traveled from Plattsburgh, parked their vehicle at the Malone Recreation Park and walked to Durant’s house near the Malone Golf Club.
Durant was asleep on his couch when they entered through a sliding-glass door and started hitting him. Durant woke up, fought back and eventually escaped after Collins and Knudson ran away.
Durant was taken to Alice Hyde Medical Center and later Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington for treatment.
DeCarlo was arrested in the locker room at the Malone golf course. He was found soaking wet, wearing a trash bag like a poncho. He told police he had been fishing and had fallen in the water and nearly drowned. But no fishing gear was found.
Champagne said that from the minute DeCarlo was questioned, “the lies began. He had provided a map to the house. He provided the accomplices with a change of clothes. He wore night-vision goggles and parked a mile and a half away from the assault.
“And the only reason it was an assault and not murder was that the victim fought back,” the DA said.
Email Denise A. Raymo: email@example.com