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November 21, 2013

Buck indicted for death of father

Grand jury issues first Otsego County murder change since 2005

By Bera Dunau STAFF WRITER
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Michael R. Buck was arraigned in Otsego County Court on Wednesday and had five indictments filed against him, including one for murder in the second degree.

The arraignment took place before Judge John Lambert, who will be presiding over the case. Buck was set to appear in court on Nov. 21, but the date was moved up by the judge because of a scheduling conflict.

“The grand jury heard the case (Nov. 12),” said Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, who is prosecuting the case and filed the indictments. “They returned the indictments the same day.”

Buck was 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 indictments stem from an incident in the early morning hours of Sept. 21. Buck, 33, is accused of shooting his father, Joseph Buck, 64, in the Middlefield home they shared. Michael Buck was shot in the right cheek during the incident. Police say that two handguns were involved.

Police charged Buck with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and first-degree criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, charges on which he was indicted, in addition to the two criminal weapons-possession charges.

“They found he had what appeared to be assault weapons,” said Muehl, when asked about the criminal possession of a weapon charges.

He said police found two Bushmaster .223 rifles in the course of their investigation. Muehl said the rifles would have been illegal to possess in New York even before the 2013 passage of the SAFE Act.

He also said the rifles were not alleged to have been a part of the shooting incident.

After the indictment, a bail hearing was held. Bail was set by Lambert at $500,000 cash and $1,000,000 bond. No bail has been posted for Buck as of this time.

Thomas Hegeman, Buck’s court appointed attorney, said that he had expected the indictment.

“No idea,” said Hegeman, when asked if he expected the case to go to trial.

Buck’s next scheduled court appearance is 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 9. Muehl characterized the appearance as a pre-trial conference.

“I don’t expect a whole lot to happen at that time,” said Muehl.

Muehl did say, however, that he would probably put a plea offer forward on that date to resolve the case.

“There’s really not much difference between the murder charge and a burglary charge,” said Muehl, when asked how his office was handling the murder case, emphasizing that the procedures were essentially the same. “They’re no more difficult than any other case particularly.”

The last time a murder charge was filed in Otsego County was in 2005.