Jury convicts man of shooting up wrong Schenectady house
SCHENECTADY The man accused of shooting up an Elbert Street house last summer was convicted Tuesday of trying to kill the people inside.
The verdict came after the jury heard evidence that Joshua Harwood and unidentified other people were responsible for as many as 20 shots fired at the Schenectady home June 12, 2012, after Harwood had an argument with his former girlfriend and her new boyfriend over the phone.
The jury also essentially found the house Harwood shot at was the wrong house. The house his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend were at was two doors down. The house he shot up was home to a family completely unconnected to the situation. No one was hurt.
“It’s certainly justice for a family that was completely innocent in this case,” prosecutor Peter Willis said.
The jury received the case Monday afternoon and returned its verdict Tuesday morning.
Harwood, 30, of Clarendon Street, Schenectady, now faces as many as 25 years in prison on his convictions Tuesday on charges including second-degree attempted murder and first-degree attempted assault.
Key to the case was a GPS tracker affixed to a car driven only by Harwood, Willis said. The tracking device was placed there with a court order as state police investigated a string of burglaries in Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties, Willis said. Harwood is now charged in several of those break-ins.
When his name came up as a suspect in the Elbert Street gunfire, investigators checked the GPS log and found the car was driven almost to the shooting scene and parked on the next street over for about 20 minutes at the time of the shooting.
“That was certainly crucial evidence,” Willis said after the verdict was announced Tuesday. “That helped us trace his movements that night and figure out exactly what he was doing and when he was doing it.”
Harwood’s attorney contended the car was owned by his sister and there was no proof Harwood drove it that night. In his opening statement, James Walsh called the prosecution’s case a “bucket of steam,” saying there was no evidence connecting Harwood to the crime.
On Tuesday, Walsh contended the defense was made more difficult because the prosecution was allowed to give multiple theories to the jury, contending Harwood was guilty if he fired, if he was there with his friends while they fired or if he simply stayed in the car as the friends fired.
“It’s very difficult when you don’t know the theory of the prosecution’s case, when they argue three to four different things that might have happened,” Walsh said.
He said he was shocked the jury convicted Harwood on the attempted murder count, saying he believed that should require more direct interaction than simply shooting at a house.
Walsh also contended Harwood knew where his ex-girlfriend lived, so he would not have shot up the wrong house. But Willis cited testimony from her that she had recently moved there and Harwood had only dropped her off in the area, not at her doorstep.
According to the prosecution, three or four of the shots went directly into the home’s living room, occupied by the parents and some friends. The shots hit a wall behind their heads. Another shot lodged in a wall leading to the bedroom of one of three children who were home at the time. A shotgun was also discharged directly at the front door of the home.
“It was a pretty sustained and deliberate attack,” Willis said.
Sentencing is set for July 24. The trial was held before acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye.