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December 11, 2013

Accused killer makes court appearance

By Bera Dunau The Cooperstown Crier
The Daily Star

---- — Michael Buck, who is accused of killing his father in the Middlefield home they shared, made an appearance in Otsego County Court on Monday.

Buck and his attorney, Thomas Hegeman of Oneonta, were in court Monday morning for a pre-trial conference. 

While most of the conference took place in the chambers of Judge John Lambert, who is presiding over the case, the attorneys did put one item into the public record.

Hegeman asked that the date for him to file pre-trial motions be extended from Dec. 28 to Jan. 31. Hegeman explained this request by saying that at this point he lacked certain information.

“I have no objections to that,” said Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, and Lambert changed the date to Jan. 31.

Lambert also announced that the next conference for the case would be Jan. 13 at 9:30 a.m.

Buck has been indicted on one charge of second-degree murder, one charge of first-degree assault, one charge of criminal use of a firearm in the first degree and two counts of third-degree criminal weapons possession. If convicted, Buck could face up to 25 years to life in prison.

The charges stem from a Sept. 28 incident in the Middlefield home Buck, 33, shared with his father, Joseph Buck, 64.  It left Joseph Buck dead and Michael Buck with a bullet wound to his right cheek. Police say the incident involved two handguns, and Buck is accused of shooting his father.

Muehl said, in comments to The Cooperstown Crier, that it looked like an effort is being made to have Buck’s trial in April, a prospect he indicated he is skeptical of.

“I doubt if we’re going to get to it (in) April,” said Muehl.

Muehl also said that he had not offered Buck a plea agreement at the conference, as Buck’s attorney was looking to get a psychiatric evaluation for his client, and it didn’t seem that the defense would be interested at this time.

“It really depends what the evaluation (says),” said Muehl, on how that might influence what offers the prosecution will put on the table.

As for when he might make an offer, Muehl said, “I will probably not make an offer until after motions are made.”

As for the information that Hegeman said that he lacked, Muehl said that much of it consisted of lab reports from the crime scene, including ballistics reports, which have not come back from the lab yet.

Muehl says he hopes that the reports come back by the time the two sides meet again for their next pre-trial conference.

“Hopefully we have them all in by then,” said Muehl.