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Special prosecutor appointed in Hallett case

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Jefferson County Court Judge Kim H. Martusewicz confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he has appointed Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara special prosecutor in the Deputy Adam B. Hallett case.

Mr. McNamara will have the same powers as Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert, including the power to convene a grand jury.

Ms. Intschert made application earlier this month, asking Judge Martusewicz to determine whether her office had a conflict of interest in the case, which involved Deputy Hallett, who was found unresponsive in his patrol vehicle with a bottle of bourbon whiskey in his console on Dec. 1 off the side of the road in the town of Henderson.

Mr. McNamara will have the ability to prosecute the case himself or appoint one of his assistants to do so.

Judge Martusewicz said that in selecting a special prosecutor, he was looking for someone who didn’t have any connections to the case and had an appropriate level of experience.

He also wanted to keep the matter within Jefferson County’s judicial district.

Jefferson County is in the 5th Judicial District, which also includes Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego counties.

Ms. Intschert said she had been made aware of the decision but could not comment on the matter.

Mr. Burns said that the appointment was “not a problem” and that he welcomed the external investigation.

The night of the incident, Deputy Hallett was “slow in speech and acted somewhat intoxicated,” according to observations made by the deputy who responded to the scene, believed to have been Matthew A. Vaughn.

After finding the whiskey bottle, the responding deputy disposed of it by throwing it into a nearby field, according to reports prepared by Sheriff John P. Burns and County Attorney David J. Paulsen.

Internal charges were brought against both Deputy Vaughn and Deputy Hallett, but no further action was taken.

County legislators called for the involvement of the state Attorney General’s office in the matter but were advised by the Deanna R. Nelson, assistant attorney general in charge of the Waterton regional office, that the county had all the power necessary to handle the case on its own.

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