Court officially clears Wing of wrongful charge for Gouverneur man's murder
May 24—GOUVERNEUR — Frederick A. "Freddy" Wing's murder charge has been dismissed, marking a significant milestone in his fight for justice. The case, which initially carried the weight of a life sentence, has now been resolved, granting Mr. Wing a clean slate and absolving him of any criminal history.
Mr. Wing, 22, was arrested on Feb. 11, accused of stabbing to death 72-year-old Ronald E. "Huck" Durham, who was a close friend to Mr. Wing. Mr. Durham's body had been found that morning in East Riverside Cemetery with a single stab wound to the neck, across the street from Mr. Wing's residence.
Mr. Wing appeared Wednesday morning in Rossie Town Court in front of Justice Philip Gentile.
Gary M. Pasqua, the St. Lawrence County district attorney, made a motion in the interest of justice to reduce the murder charge to third-degree assault, downgrading it from a class A1 felony to a misdemeanor level. Justice Gentile granted it, absolving Mr. Wing. The case record is now permanently sealed and Mr. Wing's mugshot and fingerprints taken after his arrest will be destroyed.
Mr. Pasqua expressed regret over the protracted legal process. He cited logistical challenges encountered during the proceedings, but ultimately commended the just conclusion.
"He's not responsible for the crime he's charged with, and this is the proper end result for him," the DA said.
Edward F. Narrow, Mr. Wing's defense attorney, expressed immense relief on behalf of his client.
"He was charged with (second-degree) murder, and it's been dismissed. Now he becomes a regular citizen with no criminal history." He went on to describe the outcome as the best possible resolution, which was joyous relief for Mr. Wing and his supporters.
"Everyone knew Freddy was innocent, but until today, the state didn't officially acknowledge that," Mr. Narrow said.
Wing's loved ones and dedicated supporters were overcome with emotion upon the Justice Gentile his exoneration. Jessica M. Bice, Mr. Wing's cousin, said she is ecstatic over the outcome, "so much so that I cried. We are very happy about this." Mrs. Bice said that Mr. Wing himself was overjoyed and now wants to go on a celebratory road trip. She said although Mr. Wing had been free on his own recognizance, pending dismissal of the charges, they were reluctant to leave the Gouverneur area until a court had formally exonerated him.
She expressed gratitude toward the district attorney for acknowledging the mistake made and pushing for a just outcome. She highlighted the importance of securing justice and ensuring that people with disabilities are afforded the same rights as everyone else. Mr. Wing has autism and has issues with listening comprehension and short-term memory. He ended up spending nearly three weeks incarcerated in the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility following a lengthy Feb. 11 interview with state police that led to Mr. Wing being charged with murder. He was released when investigators determined he was innocent, and Adam W. Smith, 46, of Gouverneur and Lake Placid was charged with Mr. Durham's murder. Mrs. Bice recognized that while this hurdle has been cleared, a longer battle awaits in rectifying the injustices endured.
"It's been over 100 days what we've had to deal with, at least this part. I know we have a longer battle to go through the injustices, and we're just glad to be over this hurdle," she said.
The dismissal of Mr. Wing's murder charge brings a sigh of relief to all those who fervently believed in his innocence. As he begins his journey as a free citizen again, he and his family hope for justice and inclusivity for people with disabilities.
Smith, Mr. Durham's alleged killer, is charged in a second case with stabbing and killing William M. Freeman, 67, in Mr. Freeman's Rossie home on March 1. He's also accused of stealing Mr. Freeman's truck, firearm and credit and debit cards. He is incarcerated in the St. Lawrence County jail without bail while the case moves forward.