A judge in New York dismissed all charges Wednesday against a Vermont deputy who was involved in a chaotic sidewalk brawl that ended when he was shot multiple times by police.
Judge James A. Murphy said many factors went into his decision, including the prosecution’s “failure to properly instruct the grand jury on the law” as well as improper speculation by witnesses.
Vito Caselnova, who was a sheriff’s deputy in Rutland County, Vermont, was involved in the late-night melee in November 2022 with three men from Utica, New York, in the historic center of Saratoga Springs.
Prosecutors said Caselnova and another man shot their guns at each other simultaneously, while defense lawyers said the Utica man fired first.
Police officers responded and shot Caselnova. A bullet fired by officers also grazed his girlfriend’s arm.
Caselnova was indicted in March on charges including attempted murder and possessing a firearm in a “sensitive location.” He pleaded not guilty.
Following Wednesday’s dismissal, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen will still be able to present the case to a new grand jury, Murphy wrote.
There was no immediate response to email messages sent to Heggen and Caselnova’s lawyer, Gregory Teresi, seeking comment.