First Street hate crimes case dismissed over lack of evidence

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The case of a Rome man accused of carving hate crimes into his neighbor’s U-Haul truck on First Street has been dismissed by Oneida County Court.

Donald W. DeCarolis, 40, of First Street, pleaded not guilty in January before Judge Michael L. Dwyer to one count each of third-degree mischief and making graffiti, with the mischief charge filed as a hate crime. Police said in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, DeCarolis drew a swastika and wrote other racially derogatory language on the side of his Black neighbor’s rented U-Haul truck.

According to District Attorney Scott D. McNamara, the defense asked Judge Dwyer to review the grand jury proceeding and the judge decided there was not enough evidence linking DeCarolis to the crime. McNamara said Dwyer dismissed the case in mid March.

“The Court felt there was insufficient evidence to connect the defendant with the crime,” McNamara said on Tuesday.

“The Court granted us leave to re-present (to the grand jury) if that’s what we wanted to do.”

McNamara declined to comment on whether his office would send the case back to the grand jury for a new indictment.

The vandalism sparked a large outcry from the Rome community, including a protest on First Street the following day and condemnations by city leaders.

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