What's next in William Larson Jr. trial: Allegany County teen accused of killing parents

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A lot has changed since William J. Larson, Jr., of Clarksville, was charged with killing his parents and setting fire to their home on Courtney Hollow Road in November 2019, but the case continues to move forward toward a possible trial in an Allegany County courtroom later this year.

In February 2020, an Allegany County Grand Jury indicted Larson on two counts of second-degree murder, one count of attempted arson, two counts of concealment of a human corpse and three counts of tampering with physical evidence.

Larson, who was 17 at the time of the killings, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A criminal complaint alleged Larson killed his parents, William Larson, Sr., 67, and Lisa Larson, 50, by shooting and stabbing them on the family’s property Nov. 5, 2019.

Autopsy reports indicated William Larson, Sr., and Lisa Larson each suffered a gunshot wound and multiple stab wounds. However, in a videotaped statement to New York State Police investigators, Larson alleged his father shot his mother and later threw a knife at him before he shot his father.

Authorities said Larson left the bodies outside for several weeks before dragging them into the family’s Courtney Hollow Road residence and starting a fire. That led to the discovery of the victims by first responders and Larson’s arrest on Nov. 21, 2019.

The latest developments in double-murder case

Several new developments have arisen since the indictment, including the COVID-19 pandemic, another arrest for Larson and changes in both the defense and prosecution teams.

The original lead prosecutor in the case, Allegany County Assistant District Attorney J. Thomas "Tom" Fuoco, died on Feb. 17, 2020, at age 57.

Then coronavirus began having an impact starting in March 2020. The pandemic and subsequent New York on Pause restrictions that limited and in some cases prohibited public gatherings resulted in a significant slow-down in the court system. The restrictions delayed trials, grand jury work, court hearings and other criminal and civil proceedings.

There has been much more forward movement in 2021, but there have also been some new developments in the case.

Larson was represented by the Allegany County Public Defender’s Office until last fall when he retained veteran Buffalo defense attorney Dominic H. Saraceno.

Saraceno said he is requesting time from Allegany County Court Judge Terrence M. Parker to put together an expert witness team.

“For instances, I am in the process of retaining a psychiatrist. I am in the process of retaining a private investigator and I am also in the process of retaining a ballistics expert,” Saraceno said.

Saraceno said one plea deal had been rejected and a trial before the end of the year is possible.

“Potentially over the summer I could see a trial or in the fall, depending on the judge’s calendar,” Saraceno said.

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There has also been a change in prosecutors. Last July, Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker was appointed special prosecutor for the case.

While special prosecutors frequently step in when a district attorney’s office has a conflict of interest, that wasn’t the case in this situation.

Already short-staffed, the Allegany County District Attorney’s Office was stretched thin by the Nicholas Burdge murder case, which involved eight defendants in the Wellsville homicide.

“(Allegany County) District Attorney Keith Slep just didn’t have enough (staff) to do it all so we volunteered to help,” Baker said. “We are prosecuting the case on behalf of Allegany County under their authority.”

At trial, Baker will lead the prosecution, teaming with Steuben County assistant district attorney Joseph Pelych.

The prosecution got a key win in fall 2021, when Parker ruled that statements Larson allegedly made to investigators would be admissible in a trial.

Grand jury issues new indictments

On March 9, an Allegany County Grand Jury returned three new indictments charging the now 19-year-old Larson with two felony counts of first-degree promoting prison contraband and one misdemeanor count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The charges are connected to Larson's arrest on July 31, 2021 at the Allegany County Jail.

The indictments allege Larson unlawfully possessed the prescription drug mirtazapine and a weapon, described by prosecutors as a shank, while in custody at the facility. The indictment alleges Larson planned to use the shank on another person.

Larson is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges March 28.

What happens next

According to Allegany County Court officials, the defense has until April 4, 2022 to file expert reports with the court. There is also a case status check scheduled for that date.

Baker said the case is moving forward but it is premature to set a trial date, especially considering the defense is putting together expert witnesses. He said he may have to do the same.

Other obstacles have been cleared, he noted.

"All the initial motions with the public defender are done. All the discovery is done. All the rulings are done," Baker said.

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This article originally appeared on The Evening Tribune: Allegany County double-murder case moves toward trial

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