MAYVILLE - In his first appearance in Chautauqua County Court, Anthony Robert Taglianetti II on Wednesday pleaded innocent to a second-degree murder charge in the death of the Clymer Schools superintendent.
Taglianetti, 42, is being represented by Ned Barone, Chautauqua County public defender, in the September homicide of Keith Reed Jr. - a high-profile murder that has rocked the small Clymer town of roughly 1,700 residents.
Taglianetti, who was indicted on one count of second-degree murder by a grand jury, is maintaining his innocence and looked forward to returning to New York, Barone said.
Pictured at top, Anthony Robert Taglianetti II entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday during arraignment in front of County Court Judge John T. Ward. Taglianetti is being represented by the Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office. Pictured above, Taglianetti is escorted out of a Chautauqua County Court room following his arraignment.
P-J photos by Eric Tichy
Wednesday's arraignment was before County Court Judge John T. Ward. At least three students wearing Clymer school apparel were seated in the county courtroom.
Bail, at the request of District Attorney David Foley, was set at $2.5 million in cash or $5 million in real property. Foley noted Taglianetti was "on the run" in Virginia days after the Sept. 21 shooting of Reed when making his case for bail. He added that the ex-Marine should be considered a "flight risk."
"We allege that Mr. Taglianetti came to New York," Foley told reporters following the arraignment. "He has no connection to New York state."
"Following the alleged commission of the crime, he fled New York state," he continued. "We put out a national alert to be on the lookout for him at that time. ... It took us several days to locate him. He was not located at his residence in Virginia; he was located camping out near the George Washington National Forest, I believe."
Barone, in a press conference of his own, was highly critical of the district attorney and Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace over the handling of the case thus far.
"If you listen to the district attorney and the sheriff, (Taglianetti) has already been tried and convicted," Barone said. "And (he's) just made his initial appearance on an arraignment."
"So I think what's most important is to always remember the presumption of innocence," Barone said, noting Taglianetti has "maintained his innocence from the very beginning" and was not on the run when he was apprehended in Virginia.
Barone also scrutinized recent media reports. He said a saturation of news on the case could make it hard to find an impartial jury in Chautauqua County.
"I don't want my client to be tried and convicted by the media," Barone said, noting he isn't looking for change of venue right now.
When asked by reporters, the district attorney would not comment if he felt his office had enough to convict Taglianetti at this time. However, Foley said his office gained time to review evidence after Taglianetti refused to waive extradition back to New York.
"I don't like to comment on the strength of cases," he said. "Ultimately the determination as to guilt or innocence is up to a jury to decide. That's not up to me to decide."
Nonetheless, the nature of the crime has left Clymer in shock.
"It's tragic. Not only is it a murder in a small town ... but it's the nature of this murder which is I think unsettling," said Foley, who on Wednesday thanked sheriff deputies in Virginia and Chautauqua County.
"This is a high-profile community member who was a guiding light for school children; was responsible for the school; was well known in the community; and was well liked," he said.
Taglianetti was extradited Tuesday back to New York by investigators in the Sheriff's Office. No other charges are expected at this time, Foley said.
Reed's brother, Kevin Reed, was present at arraignment and Foley's press conference. Kevin Reed declined comment to reporters at the direction of the district attorney's office.
A pre-motion conference as been set for Jan. 28, when a scheduling order will be released. Foley has stated any trial involving Taglianetti would not likely start until the summer.