Three central New York teenagers were sentenced to more than a decade in prison each in Oswego County Court Monday for their roles in a February burglary and murder in Granby.
Glenwood Carr Jr., 16, of Lysander, and Michael Celi, 17, of Baldwinsville, were sentenced on a single count each of second-degree murder, and Zachary Scott, 19, of Van Buren, was sentenced on a count of first-degree burglary after the three broke into the trailer of Anthony Miller on Feb. 3 and fatally stabbed him for money and marijuana.
Carr was sentenced to a period of 17-and-a-half years to life in prison, Celi was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and Scott was sentenced to 18-and-a-half years in prison, with five years of post-release supervision.
According to District Attorney Greg Oakes, the idea to burglarize Miller’s mobile home began with Carr, who claimed Miller owed him and his family money. Oakes said Celi immediately jumped on the idea and took ownership of the plan, providing Carr and Scott with ski masks. He also armed himself with a knife and armed Scott with a metal pipe.
Miller’s older sister, Lulia Brown, wrote a letter about how the events affected her life, which Oakes read aloud in court before the three teenagers were sentenced.
“My brother Tony would’ve given the shirt off his back if someone was in need. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die,” she said in the letter.
Brown said that Miller housed Carr and his father when they were homeless.
“He was like a son to Tony,” she said about Carr, “and this is the thanks my brother gets.”
Brown said all three of the teenagers were “friends of Tony’s, if you want to call them friends.”
Brown said in her letter that Miller had diabetes, and was too weak to defend himself from three teenagers.
“Zachary Scott: I say to you that you are a follower. You attacked a man that trusted you and allowed you into his home. I thank you for ‘manning up’ and accepting your plea deal,” she wrote.
Brown also said she knew Carr had a troubled past with absent parents, but she knew he “masterminded the whole, hideous thing.”
“I blame you for your stupidity. You knew it wasn’t right what you did,” she wrote. “Do yourself a favor and get an education in prison. Make something of yourself other than a menace to society.”
Brown then addressed Celi in her letter.
“Michael Celi: I say to you that I want to say I hate you, but I won’t stoop so low,” she wrote. “I hope your stay in prison is rough. I hope someone manhandles you like you did to my brother.”
Brown wrote about her intention to appear at Carr and Celi’s parole hearings in the coming years to argue that they should not be let out of prison.
At Scott’s sentencing, Judge Donald Todd admonished him for not using any leadership skills to stop the two younger defendants.
“He could have exercised some form of leadership over the two younger defendants,” he said. “They are young men, but they darn well know the difference between right and wrong.”
Scott’s attorney, Joseph Rodak, said Scott reflects on his actions “each day and wonders what he could have done differently.”
Scott told Todd that he wanted to “come home a better person.”
“You knew it was wrong, you knew it was stupid, when you realized Mr. Miller was home, nobody should have entered,” Todd said before handing down his sentence.
When Carr was sentenced, Oakes argued that the crime “began with Mr. Carr.”
“Murder was a consequence they anticipated,” he said, noting how the teenagers wouldn’t have arrived at the home with weapons and ski masks if they didn’t consider the possibility that Miller might be home.
“My client wishes he could take it back. From day one he has been remorseful,” said Carr’s attorney, Timothy Kirwan. “He did have a troubled life and mental health issues.”
Carr said he would live with the night’s events for the rest of his life.
“I’m sure you’re sorry, and I know you didn’t mean for it to happen, but you were involved in a crime that was wrong and dangerous. You came up with this idea because you believed this man owed you, your father and your uncle some money,” Todd said. “You owed him a hell of a lot more than he may have owed your family.”
At Celi’s sentencing, Oakes advocated for the full sentence offered in the plea deal of 21 years to life in prison.
“I get no joy or satisfaction from this request, but I am asking the court to impose the full sentence,” he said. “This whole thing is tragic because of the death and the three young men who threw away their lives.”
Oakes said Celi “fully anticipated this could go wrong in the way that it did.”
According to Oakes, when Carr and Scott both showed reluctance upon the realization that Miller was at his home, Celi demanded they go through with the burglary because he had already paid for the gas money to reach the trailer.
According to court documents, Celi attacked Miller with a hammer until the head of the tool fell off before stabbing him three times.
Stab wounds were “deliberate, these were intentional and these were meant to cause harm,” Oakes said. “He mouths the words of being sorry, he mouths the words of contrition, but I don’t know how serious they are.”
Oakes called into question how sincerely sorry all three of the teenagers were, considering reports that they stepped over Miller’s body as he lay on the ground, dying or dead, to grab items to steal.
“Mr. Celi shows a high risk of violent recidivism,” Oakes said.
Celi’s attorney, Anthony DiMartino, said Celi had taken responsibility for his actions when he pleaded guilty.
“My client has an alcohol usage problem,” he said. “Does that mean he’s not remorseful? It means he has a problem.”
Todd said he didn’t believe any potential alcoholism played a role in the murder.
“You were drinking, but I’ve never seen a bottle of beer break into a house,” he said.
Ultimately, Todd sentenced Celi to 20 years to life in prison instead of the maximum sentence of 21 years to life.
“I’m going to give you the one year off. I’m going to give you that chance,” he said. “It’s easy to lock up someone based on who they are now. I’m going to give you a chance to convince the parole board in 20 years that you’ve changed.”