MALONE — Daniel DeCarlo II admitted Wednesday he tried to kill a romantic rival last year by beating him in the head with a crowbar.
The Plattsburgh man, 29, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Court to second-degree attempted murder, first-degree gang assault, first-degree assault and first-degree burglary in the attack on Jeffrey Durant, 32, on June 26, 2011.
Durant was dating DeCarlo’s ex-girlfriend at the time.
Two accomplices, Brendon Collins, 20, and Todd Knudson, 20, both of Plattsburgh, had agreed to testify against DeCarlo at trial, which was scheduled to begin July 24.
A Huntley hearing in June was held to determine if statements DeCarlo had given police in a lengthy interview could be used against him at trial, and Franklin County District Attorney Derrick Champagne said Wednesday that County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr. had ruled that they could.
DeCarlo, who was a confidential police informant until his arrest, will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 10 to 14 years in state prison and five years of post-release supervision.
Collins is expected to be sentenced to six years and Knudson to a term not to exceed 2 1/3 to seven years for their roles in the attack.
The three arrived in Malone from Plattsburgh at about 4:45 a.m. the day of the assault; District Attorney Derek Champagne said they all changed into old clothes supplied by DeCarlo. He also drew a map to the victim’s house and used a pair of night-vision goggles to lead the way, walking about 1.5 miles from the Malone Recreation Park to Durant’s home on Duane Street Road near the Malone Golf Club.
Durant was asleep on his couch when DeCarlo, Collins and Knudson came into the house through a sliding-glass door.
DeCarlo took out a crowbar that Collins and Knudson did not know he had, Champagne said, and struck Durant, who was awakened by the blow, got up and fought back.
Collins held Durant in a headlock while DeCarlo continued to hit him. Then Collins and Knudson then fled to the golf course, returned to the Rec Park and called someone for a ride back to Plattsburgh.
Durant was able to escape and phoned a friend, who took him to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone. He was then transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington with a fractured skull.
“The victim is recovered and doing well, but I can tell you this could have had a very tragic outcome,” Champagne said, “but Mr. Durant is very athletic and fought off the aggressors.
“He’s the reason Collins and Knudson ran. They saw he was so athletic and fighting back, they ran. So this could have (otherwise) had a very tragic outcome.”
HELD WITHOUT BAIL
Durant told police he recognized DeCarlo, who was found by authorities sitting on a bench in the men’s locker room at the golf course. He was soaking wet and wearing a trash bag over his head like a poncho.
DeCarlo told police he was fishing, fell into the water and nearly drowned. But no fishing gear was found by investigators.
He is being held in County Jail without bail until sentencing, Collins is held on $100,000 cash and $200,000 insurance bond, and Knudson was released under the County Sheriff’s Department’s electronic-home-monitoring program.
Champagne said the differences in sentencings for the plea agreements have to do with each person’s participation in the crime and their criminal record.
He said Knudson was extremely drunk that night, after finding out his girlfriend was pregnant. He had only a minor criminal-mischief offense on his record. He was friends with Collins and didn’t know DeCarlo until that night, the DA said.
“He was just along for the ride,” Champagne said.
Knudson, he said, believed it was to be a one-on-one fight that DeCarlo would have with Durant and that his own role was as backup in case other people were at the house.
Collins took a more active role by either preventing Durant from getting away or restraining him, so his plea involved a longer prison term, the DA said.
But DeCarlo will be sentenced to 14 years because he was the one who had sent a series of threatening text messages to Durant and his ex-girlfriend that escalated in severity, he’d drawn the map to Durant’s home, provided the change of clothing and brought the night-vision goggles and crowbar.
“It was Daniel DeCarlo’s DNA on a mask found at the scene, and it was Daniel DeCarlo’s clothing with the victim’s blood on it,” Champagne said.
“He was the only one with a motive and was the one truly culpable for the events of that morning. The other two were along for the ride.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org