ALBANY, NEW YORK – Edward A. Leon and Jennica Duell have been arrested and charged, in separate indictments, with making false declarations before a federal grand jury, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Acting Special Agent in Charge James S. Higgins of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The indictments allege that the false declarations were made in testimony before a grand jury conducting an investigation into the fire on or about May 2, 2013 at 438 Hulett Street in Schenectady, New York that caused the deaths of David Terry and three young children, seriously injured another child, and destroyed the building and the personal property inside.
The indictment charging Duell alleges that she testified under oath before the federal grand jury on or about May 24, 2013 and on or about January 31, 2014 and knowingly made material declarations on each date which were irreconcilably contradictory and inconsistent to the degree that one of them was necessarily false. The indictment alleges that Duell’s testimony in May of 2013 included declarations about how the fire at 438 Hulett Street was started, and by whom, and how: 1) A man said that he could make it so Duell and him could be together forever; 2) She, the man, and others had traveled from Saratoga Springs to Schenectady, talking about how she was tired of being controlled by David Terry, a face to face confrontation was necessary, and she said to do it and get it over with; 3) They stopped to get gas along the way; 4) A man poured gas in the hallway and then lit the stairs by using a lighter and a cloth with gas on it; 5) She spoke about her babies and he said they would get out and not get hurt; 6) Before lighting the fire, he asked Duell if she wanted to be free, and she said she did; 7) She saw the flames and wanted to get in there, but he wouldn’t let her; and 8) He said her story should be that they were in Saratoga the whole night. The indictment further alleges that Duell’s testimony in January of 2014 included declarations that the May 2013 declarations were untrue, and that she and the others had stayed in Saratoga Springs the entire night of the fire, never traveling to Schenectady.
The indictment of Leon charges two counts of making false declarations before the grand jury in sworn testimony on November 22, 2013. Count One alleges that Leon testified falsely regarding his travel on May 2, 2013, alleging that he falsely testified that he had driven straight from the Cumberland Farms in Palatine Bridge to work in Amsterdam, New York, but that he had actually driven first to Schenectady, was there driving on Hamilton Street near its intersection with Hulett Street at about 4:19 a.m, and was in the area of 438 Hulett Street at the time of the fire.
Count Two alleges that Leon testified falsely in denying that he had used a particular telephone to send text messages to David Terry, some of which were threatening, from April 25 – 29, 2013.
Leon, 42, of St. Johnsville, New York, and Duell, 26, of Schenectady, New York, both appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel in U.S. District Court in Albany, New York. Leon waived a detention hearing and was detained pending trial or a later hearing request. Duell was detained pending a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. The indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. If convicted, Duell faces a maximum sentence of imprisonment for five years, a $250,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. Since Leon is charged with two counts, if convicted, he faces an aggregate maximum sentence of imprisonment for ten years, a $500,000 fine, and a term of supervised release up to five years.
United States Attorney Hartunian stated: “The constitutional requirement of indictment by a grand jury depends on the truthful testimony of witnesses. Perjury undermines the integrity of our judicial system and is particularly insidious when the underlying offense is one that resulted in the killing of a father and three young children and horrible injuries to a fourth child. This indictment alleges conduct designed to impede the investigation, but we remain resolute in our commitment to continuing the investigation until justice is done.”
The charges today resulted from an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Schenectady Police Department, and the Schenectady Fire Department. The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U. S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Assistant United States AttorneyWayne A. Myers.
Further questions or inquiries may be directed to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaquith at 518-431-0247.