NORWICH — A Preston man entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in Chenango County Court, where he was arraigned on a five-count indictment in the December murder of Lucinda Knoll, 39.
William H. Danielson, 48, was charged in a Jan. 10 indictment with two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and second-degree assault in connection with the death of Knoll, his former girlfriend.
He is accused of robbing Knoll at her 110 Bourbon St. home in the town of Norwich at about 6:30 a.m. Dec. 27, stealing property and hitting her on the head many times, causing injuries that resulted in her death Dec. 28, the indictment from the grand jury said.
More than 50 people, including relatives, friends and coworkers of Knoll, sat close together on benches Wednesday, sometimes talking but overall maintaining a hushed tone in the courtroom before and after the proceedings.
Three armed guards stood near Danielson, who wore an orange jail uniform and didn’t speak publicly, during arraignment before Judge Frank Revoir.
Scott Clippinger, as defense attorney, entered not guilty pleas on Danielson’s behalf and said bail wouldn’t be requested Wednesday but reserved the right to apply for bail later.
Before court proceedings, Joseph A. McBride, Chenango County district attorney, spoke quietly to Knoll’s mother and stepfather, who were among observers in the front row immediately behind the prosecutor’s table.
After the arraignment, Sheila Strobel, Knoll’s mother, said she wouldn’t answer questions but would make a statement.
“My daughter was a wonderful, caring, loving person that would never hurt a fly,” Strobel said. “She lived for her children. This is a tragedy.”
Lucinda Knoll died of blunt force trauma to her head after Danielson assaulted her while she was putting their 7-year-old son into a vehicle Dec. 27, Chenango County deputies said previously. She was airlifted to Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center in Johnson City, where she was provided with life support, authorities said.
Danielson, who fled the scene, was arrested after he returned to his Preston home, deputies said, and he originally was charged with attempted murder and robbery. He was arraigned Dec. 30 in Norwich Town court on a more-serious murder charge.
Authorities withheld some facts in the case, including identification of a weapon, autopsy results and personal items that were taken from Knoll.
Knoll and Danielson had lived in Preston but had broken up about four months previously, authorities said in December, and Knoll moved to Norwich. Danielson had an Oxford mailing address.
From a marriage to Eric J. Knoll, Lucinda had two sons, Joey and Kurt, now 14 and 10 respectively, the boys’ paternal grandparents, Roberta and Joe Knoll of Oxford, said while in court Wednesday.
Her third son, Salvatore Danielson, whose father is the defendant, is staying with Lucinda Knoll’s mother, the Knolls said.
Joe Knoll said his grandsons, who live with them, are doing OK but shouldn’t be without their mother, and he wished that the court case was in another state that permitted hanging.
“She was brutally bludgeoned to death,” he said.
Most recently, Lucinda had worked at Norwich Pharma Services, previously called Norwich Pharmaceuticals, Roberta Knoll said, and colleagues from her various work experiences were in court Wednesday.
Revoir read each count in the indictment, then reviewed Danielson’s rights, which included the right to remain silent and to a speedy trial, among others.
The first murder count in the indictment alleges Danielson struck Knoll on with head with intent to cause death, and the second murder count charges that by forcibly stealing property, during which he struck her head many times, he caused her death.
Clippinger has 45 days to file motions for the defense, court officials said, after which the district attorney will respond.
Law enforcement officials took Danielson back to the county jail after the approximately 20-minute court appearance.
Eric Knoll, an auto mechanic who previously has worked as a licensed practical nurse, said he was married to Lucinda for almost eight years. Knoll, who wasn’t in court Wednesday, didn’t comment on the criminal case but said it was a “dream come true” that both sons again are living with him.
“They obviously loved their mother,” Knoll said. “I love my boys, and I’m glad I have them — and I’m glad they don’t have to live around Mr. Danielson.”
Eric Knoll described himself as outgoing and Lucinda as shy. He attributed their separation in part to differences in personality and interests but also said Danielson “sweet-talked her” into leaving him. Joey had decided years ago that he wanted to live with the Knolls in Oxford, the family said, and recently he has been joined by Kurt.
Knoll said he was saddened by his former wife’s death and has difficulty with the circumstances. He went to the hospital to see Lucinda, talk to her and say goodbye, he said, though he knew she was “brain dead.”
“I thanked her for the two beautiful boys and told her I would do my best to raise them right,” Knoll said. ‘‘I am sad she’s gone.”