Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey says he will ask for a 25-year prison sentence for Joseph M. Machado, who was found guilty Friday for his role in last May's home invasion in Springwater in which he threatened the 70-year-old homeowner with a loaded shotgun.
"He's a violent guy and every year he gets will be worth it. He threatened a 70-year-old man and then made him testify and relive the day at trial," said McCaffrey, who had previously offered Machado a plea that included an 18-year prison sentence. "To me, the jury found his conduct deplorable as well."
Jurors took six hours March 7 to find Machado guilty of two counts of first degree robbery, two counts of first degree burglary, three counts of fourth degree grand larceny and one count of unlawful imprisonment. Sentencing will be in May.
Machado, 23, is the second person to be found guilty in the case, in which three were charged. Kyle A. Witthoft, 21, previously accepted a plea in return for his testimony for the prosecution. The third suspect, Alan J. Fick, is scheduled to go to trial in May. Witthoft is also expected to testify in that case.
The three are charged in connection with the May 11 invasion of Raymond Barrett Jr.’s home on sparsely populated Morris Road home in Springwater. Machado and Witthoft forced their way into the home, bound Barrett’s hands and arms with a belt and his feet with an electric cable tie, covered his head with a pillow case and at one point Machado threatened Barrett with a loaded shotgun pointed at his temple.
The trio stole several items from the home, including an air compressor, food and a long gun. They also stole Barrett’s Dodge Dakota pickup that was later recovered from the Erie Canal in Greece.
“Kyle Witthoft is hardly a hero. My heart doesn’t bleed for him,” McCaffrey said, “but he probably saved Mr. Barrett’s life – getting him water, helping him to the couch so he’d be more comfortable after being tied up.”
Barrett testified Thursday, his voice calm and strong, as he recounted the harrowing ordeal. He acknowledged thinking as the ordeal continued, “I thought … this is it. It’s over.”
“At one point, one guy said they should burn the house down. That was the aggressive one. The other one said no,” said Barrett, who after the intruders left worked himself free and drove his lawn tractor to a neighbor’s house to call 911.
“It was pretty frightening,” he said. “The worst part was not knowing if or when, how this was going to end.”
He described his assailants as wearing multicolor hoodies and noticed that one had red sneakers. He identified items in a number of pictures of the crime scene and items reported stolen, including photographs showing a stolen air compressor and other items at the Rochester-area home were Machado was living at the time of his arrest.
Barrett’s emotions hardly wavered during his 90 minutes of testimony and cross-examination. Only at the end did his eyes seem to well up, though he declined an offer of a tissue from the court reporter.
Thursday was the most dramatic day of the trail, with testimony from Witthoft, who accepted a plea deal in October, indicated that the robbery was pre-meditated. The day before, the trio of suspects visited Fick’s “Uncle Leon” Moses in Springwater where they “drank beers and smoked some weed,” Witthoft said, and formulated a plan to enter Barrett’s house to take what valuable they could collect. Barrett was not expected to be home at the time, according to Witthoft’s testimony.
Testimony in Machado’s trial wrapped up Friday and closing arguments completed before lunch.
The jury of eight women and four men returned to the courtroom several times to have testimony read back, including the entire testimony of victim Raymond Barrett Jr. who testified for more than an hour last Thursday, and review a video of Witthoft and Moses’s son-in-law at a party Machado had attended the night before at a home near the victim. Jurors also listened twice to the 911 recording – in which Barrett is heard telling the dispatcher “I was robbed. I was robbed.”
In his summation, McCaffrey likened the case to a puzzle. “Some pieces are large, some pieces are small, and the evidence puts them all together,” he said.
McCaffrey, whose case gave significant attention to a pair of red sneakers worn by the defendant that helped Barrett identify Machado, also drew comparisons to “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Like the great and powerful Wizard, the defense’s case was just smoke and mirrors,” McCaffrey said in an interview. He also suggested that Machado, by his actions, had “morphed into the scarecrow, lion and tin man. He had no heart, courage or brains.”
Machado did not take the stand in his defense.
During cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, Machado’s attorneys, Jeannie Michalski and Dan Magill, called attention to inconsistencies or inaccuracies in testimony, such as statements made to investigators compared to later testimony to a grand jury and even the witnesses’ trial testimony.
The defense called a civilian witness who had observed someone else in red sneakers, and two scientists from the public safety lab who testified about DNA results, which did not included the defendant’s DNA, but also had limited DNA from the victim.
McCaffrey had noted in his opening arguments that he would not be presenting DNA or fingerprint evidence because the intruders had worn socks to avoid fingerprints and also used bleach to destroy potential DNA evidence.
Michalski did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Jury selection began the afternoon of March 4 and took four rounds before the jury was completed.