Having recently announced that the homicide convictions of five defendants were upheld, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III additionally announces the murder conviction of Robin Kalinowski was upheld today by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.
On November 10, 2005, Kalinowski fatally shot her husband as he lay asleep in bed. Feigning full cooperation with the police, Kalinowski tearfully claimed the shooting was an accident and was not arrested.
After two years of re-investigation spearheaded by the District Attorney’s Office, on December 1, 2007, an Erie County Grand Jury indicted Kalinowski for Murder in the Second Degree for intentionally killing her husband. The case proceeded to trial and on October 1, 2008, a mistrial was declared because the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
The case again proceeded to trail and on January 14, 2009, after three hours of deliberation, the trial jury rejected Kalinowski’s accident claim and convicted her, as charged, of second degree murder. Senior Erie County Court Judge Michael D’Amico sentenced Kalinowski to 25 year-to-life in state prison, the maximum term under the law.
On September 11, 2009, Kalinowski pleaded guilty to Conspiracy in the Second Degree in connection with a failed murder for hire plot. Specifically, Kalinowski conspired with a “hit man” (who was really an undercover officer of the New York State Police) to assassinate one of the principal prosecution witnesses in the murder case. State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang sentenced Kalinowski to six-to-twelve years in state prison, but imposed the sentence concurrently to Judge D’Amico’s sentence of 25-life; in other words, she received no additional jail time.
On May 10, 2011, the appellate court overturned the murder conviction based upon a judicial error in handling a note from the jury. Specifically, the jury had asked for some testimony to be read back to them. Judge D’Amico had the testimony promptly read back to the jury in the presence of counsel; his “reversible error” was his failure to first confer with counsel before having the testimony read back.
Assistant District Attorney and Counsel to the District Attorney Thomas Finnerty was called upon to try the case for a third time. On March 1, 2012, after a three-week trial, Kalinowski was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to the maximum of 25-life. The appellate court again reviewed the case and this time affirmed the conviction.
Chief Counsel Finnerty was assisted by Felony Trial Bureau Chief Michael Felicetta, while the conviction was successfully defended by Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Texido, who is assigned to DA Sedita’s Appeals Bureau.
DA Sedita stated: “In 2006, I sat down with members of the victim’s family and promised them the District Attorney’s Office would do everything it could to bring the defendant to justice. After three bitterly contested trials and two appeals, I trust we have kept that promise.”