Brother enters not guilty plea in Annsville murder case

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The first of two Taberg brothers charged in their third brother’s death made his first appearance in Oneida County Court Friday.

A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of 27-year-old Matthew Westcott, of Route 69, Taberg, charged with one count each of second-degree murder and third-degree possession of a weapon. Westcott appeared before Judge Robert L. Bauer.

Westcott’s case was adjourned to Dec. 3 to either accept or reject a plea offer from the District Attorney’s Office. Westcott’s brother and co-defendant, 31-year-old Michael Westcott, is scheduled for arraignment on Monday on charges of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree possession of a weapon.

Law enforcement authorities said that on Sept. 17, at the family home on Route 69 in Annsville, Matthew used a shotgun to shoot and kill his brother James in a back bedroom. According to testimony at a prior court appearance, Matthew told the state police that his brother had threatened the family earlier in the day, and had threatened to burn down the home with everyone inside. When he later saw James holding a can of gasoline, Matthew told state police that he got the shotgun and shot his brother, police said.

Authorities said Michael stabbed James several times in the back of the head with a large knife while he was on the ground, dying from the shotgun blast. In his statement to law enforcement investigators, Michael said he was trying to end his brother’s suffering.

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