Two brothers charged in death of Annsville man

Troopers say one brother shot victim, other brother stabbed him

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TOWN OF ANNSVILLE — A second brother has been charged in connection with the murder of James E. Westcott at the family home on Route 69 in Annsville on Friday, according to the New York State Police.

Michael E. Westcott, age 31, is accused of stabbing James repeatedly in the back of the head with a large knife after their other brother, Matthew E. Westcott, age 27, is accused of shooting James in the face with a shotgun, state police said. Both brothers are in county jail.

According to statements made by Matthew Westcott, James had called a family meeting that morning “about how he was going to be in charge from now on” and proceeded to threaten the members of the Westcott family, including breaking their “kneecaps” and “burning us alive in the house.”

Both brothers appeared before Annsville Town Justice Paul E. Tryon on Monday on their felony charges.

State police said Matthew shot his older brother James, age 30, once in the face with a load of birdshot with a break action shotgun at their home at 3664 Route 69 in Annsville at about 12:13 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17. State police said Michael then entered the room and repeatedly stabbed a large knife into the back of James Westcott’s head.

James was rushed to Rome Health, where he later died from his injuries. An autopsy determined that it was the shotgun that caused his death, according to prosecutors. On Monday afternoon, a felony hearing was held for Matthew on charges of second-degree murder and third-degree possession of a weapon. Meanwhile, Michael’s felony hearing was adjourned to Wednesday on a charge of first-degree assault.

A felony hearing is held at the lower court level to determine if a felony has occurred and if there is enough evidence to forward the case to the grand jury for a possible indictment. The District Attorney’s Office called two state police witnesses to the stand on Monday to describe what Matthew Westcott told them.

Testimony

Trooper Jeffrey Wegrzyn testified that he was one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene on Sept. 17 and he took Matthew into custody. Edward Westcott, the father, had called 9-1-1 and had taken the shotgun from Matthew, Wegrzyn said.

Matthew was escorted to a patrol car and Wegrzyn said he read Matthew his Constitutional Miranda Rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The trooper said that Matthew spoke to him after being read his rights.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry. He was a threat. He threatened everyone’,” Wegrzyn testified about Matthew’s comments.

“Matthew keeps things bottled up and he blacked out. He didn’t realize what happened until his father was taking the shotgun away. He doesn’t remember getting the gun or loading it,” Wegrzyn testified.

Matthew Westcott was taken to the state police barracks in Oneida, where he was then interviewed by Inv. Christopher Kolozsvary, who also testified on Monday. Kolozsvary said he took a written confession from Matthew, which Matthew signed.

According to the statement, Matthew said that James had called a family meeting Friday morning “about how he was going to be in charge from now on.” Matthew said James threatened their parents, as well as Matthew and Michael.

“From there, he started to say how things were going to go by his way. He called us a bunch of names and lazy, and to the extent that if we were going to be lazy then he was going to break our kneecaps,” Matthew told state police.

Matthew said James threatened to break every bone in their mother’s body, and “then he started to say that he would kill dad as he has nothing to care for and nothing to lose.”

James “told my mom how he was going to be spending her money, and which way she was going to start spending it,” Matthew said in his statement.

“He demanded and told me and Michael and dad how we were going to start doing things from now on. Then he went on to get more angry and enraged. He said if you want to push it you will see how far my rage will go. He would burn down the house with everyone in it and listen to all of us scream in agony while standing outside.”

Matthew told state police that the family meeting ended when their mother, in tears, told James that he could leave the house at any time and that nobody would tell her how to spend her money.

Matthew said the family members all went their separate ways for about an hour, and James went to a friend’s house down the street to get a weed-eater. When everyone returned, Matthew said he saw James with both the weed-eater and a can of gasoline.

“When I saw the gas can, my mind went blank. I remembered the conversation James had with us about burning us alive in the house. Everything shut down. I went back into my room, saw the gun hanging on the wall, picked it up and loaded it with birdshot,” Matthew said in his statement. State police said the shotgun belonged to Matthew.

In the statement, Matthew said he heard a sound behind him and saw James enter his own bedroom.

Matthew said, “I was still in my bedroom when I raised the shotgun in James’ direction. He was looking out the window. I could see his profile. I then shot him in the temple area on the left side of his head.”

Matthew said in his statement that his brother fell to the ground and then Matthew attempted to end his own life, but the cartridge jammed. He said his father came in and took the gun away. Matthew said he was confused as to why he would want to kill himself. He said he went outside and “just waited” until law enforcement arrived.

After the hearing, Justice Tryon ruled that there was enough evidence and he forwarded Matthew’s case to the county level.

According to Inv. Kolozsvary, the other brother, Michael Westcott, eventually confessed to state police over the weekend how he “stabbed James after the shooting”. Authorities said Michael Westcott was taken into custody and charged with felony assault shortly after midnight on Sunday.

Michael Westcott’s felony hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Matthew Westcott is represented by Public Defender Adam Tyksinski. Michael Westcott is represented by defense attorney Bruce Entelisano. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Todd Carville.

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