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April 3, 2014

Plea offer likelyin murder case

A plea agreement may soon be offered in the Michael R. Buck murder case, according to Otsego County District John Muehl.

“I'm still waiting to hear what the psychiatrists say,” said Muehl.

Muehl said that Buck is being evaluated by an expert for the defense. Muehl said he expects to get a report sometime this week, after which he says he expects to enter negotiations with the defense.

The Buck case has its origins in events that took place in the early morning hours of Sept. 21. Buck, 33, is accused of shooting his father, Joseph Buck, 64, in the home they shared in Middlefield. Michael Buck was shot in the cheek during this incident. According to police, two handguns were involved.

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

Muehl said that he would not consider offering Buck a plea without any jail time. 

The exception, he said, would be if the defense's expert said that Buck was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Muehl said he might then have his own expert evaluate Buck and, if this expert also concludes that Buck is not guilty by reason of insanity, that a plea deal without jail time could be possible, because Buck would not be able to be convicted.

“I can't contemplate that happening,” said Muehl.

Buck was briefly in Otsego County Court on March 31, sporting a beard he has apparently grown out since his incarceration. Buck is being represented by his court-appointed attorney, Thomas Hegeman of Oneonta.

Hegeman and Muehl both submitted pre-trial motions, and the appearance was for them to argue for them. Both lawyers, however, chose not to argue their cases.

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