You know when people ask me dumb-ass questions like, what do I want after 27-years? This is what I want: Police that stay on the case. DNA evidence that gets preserved FOR 30 YEARS! A community without a memory like a sieve. Justice.
Thanks to Richard Jones for passing this story on to me.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Man guilty of Sidney grad’s murder College student killed in 1975
By Mark Boshnack
Friends and relatives of a Sidney High School graduate who was raped and murdered in 1975 expressed a range of emotions Monday after a Madison man was found guilty of the crimes.
Donald Sigsbee, 68, a retired cabinetmaker from Madison, was convicted by an Onondaga County jury on Monday. Prosecutors successfully used DNA evidence from the crime scene and from a drinking straw Sigsbee used and discarded.
Steve Reynolds, the victim’s brother, said he was staying at a hotel there along with his brother, mother, family and friends, who had attended the trial.
“We never want people to think that all of what happened to my sister is closed because it never can be,” said Reynolds, speaking by telephone from Syracuse. The verdict is “justice served,” he said.
The immediate family had moved from the area in the years following the murder. Steve Reynolds lives in Memphis.
Reynolds was a student at Morrisville State College when she disappeared while hitchhiking Nov. 6, 1975. Her body was found 13 days later near Otisco Lake, 15 miles southwest of Syracuse. Authorities said she was stabbed in the heart.
In the case against Sigsbee, the first count of murder charged him with intentionally killing Reynolds, who was 19 years old at the time. The second count charges him with causing her death during a felony rape.
Sigsbee will be sentenced April 19. He faces a minimum 15 years and a maximum 25 years to life in state prison.
The murder happened so many years ago, Steve Reynolds said, “we never thought anything would be resolved” until about a year ago, when Sigsbee was arrested.
That occurred in March 2003 after police matched the semen to the DNA in a saliva sample authorities recovered from a drinking straw Sigsbee dumped in the trash at a fast-food restaurant.
“We had to come to terms in the past year, again, with what happened,” Steve Reynolds said.
He said the family wanted to thank the New York state police and District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and his office, for the successful prosecution of Sigsbee.
Sherri Kinsella, who was among those who attended at least part of the trial, said she was two years younger than Regina Reynolds, but her sister was a classmate.
“Everybody knew Reggie,” Kinsella said. Following the verdict, she said Reynolds “can finally rest in peace.”
Sue Hayen, who was in the victim’s class at Sidney, said she also attended much of the courtroom procedure.
“We all know the family,” she said.
About how she handled dealing with her friends death all these years, she said, “I think you lay it to rest after such a long period of time.
But “a lot of those feelings resurfaced during the testimony in the trial,” she said. Her reaction to hearing details of Reynolds death, was “you wish you could turn back the clock and she were alive today.”
Sitting in the courtroom, she said she was impressed by the number of troopers who were present.
“They never let this case drop,” she said about troopers and the district attorney.
Sidney science teacher David Pysnik, who was not at the trial, said he is one of the remaining teachers on staff who had Reynolds as a student.
He described the verdict as “a great sigh of relief.”
“A lot of people are thankful the justice system has worked,” Pysnik said. “And now we can continue to move forward.”
Jurors deliberated for eight hours Friday before adjourning for the weekend. They returned their verdict Monday morning.
Sigsbee became a principal suspect at the time of the killing after investigators found several of his business cards near the body, which had been dumped in a shallow ravine about 300 yards off a rural road.
Authorities, however, were unable to charge him because of a lack of other evidence. However, a state police investigator preserved a semen sample taken from Reynolds’ body.
During the three-day trial, dueling DNA experts offered differing opinions about the probability the semen belonged to Sigsbee.
William Shields, the only witness called by the defense, told jurors he thought the state police lab-test results were inconclusive. Shields, a biology professor from the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry who has worked for the defense in the O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson murder cases, said he would neither include or exclude Sigsbee as a suspect.
But Russell Gettig, testifying for the prosecution, told jurors the probability of someone other than Sigsbee being linked to the semen was less than 1 in 115 million.
Gettig, a forensic scientist with the New York state police crime lab, said he based his conclusion on a comparison of the DNA from a sample of the victim’s blood, the semen sample found in her body, the saliva sample recovered from the soda straw and a court-ordered known sample from Sigsbee.
A complete DNA profile could not be developed from the semen sample because it apparently degraded over time, Gettig said. But what was developed was consistent with the defendant’s DNA sample, he said.