Boy denied bail in fatal stabbing case

Hunter Welch with his mother, Tammy Welch. Tammy can’t believe her son would have stabbed his sister’s boyfriend, Michael Zindler, unless it was in self defense. (Photo provided)

PLATTSBURGH — The 14-year-old Black Brook boy accused of stabbing a man to death was sent back to the Albany Juvenile Detention Center without bail, following the adjournment of his case Friday afternoon.

Hunter Welch was charged Oct. 11 with second-degree murder in the death of Michael Zindler, 29, of West Chazy.

Welch has been incarcerated at the facility since his arraignment that night.

He appeared in Clinton County Court – Youth Part before Judge Keith Bruno, dressed in what appeared to be a navy-blue sweatsuit.

The boy entered the courtroom sheepishly and remained silent throughout the proceedings, his hair dyed purple on one side and his frame slight and small.

Home confinement denied

Bruno considered arguments from Welch’s attorney, Matthew Favro, and Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie before ruling on bail.

Favro told the judge that his client was not a flight risk and that it has proven difficult to properly defend the boy while he has been locked up two hours away in a facility where it is hard to reach his client by phone.

“I’m confident that he could be confined in the home, except for medical appointments and meetings with me,” Favro said. “He has no ability or desire to run.”

Wylie argued that Welch should return to the detention center for the “safety of the community,” as well as his own welfare.

He said that Welch’s mother, Tammy, failed to provide adequate care or education for her son, pointing out that he had been allowed to stay home from school the day of the stabbing, as well as the day before.

After ordering the boy sent back to the Detention Center, Bruno ruled that Favro could contact the court in the future to have Welch brought to the courthouse to meet with his attorney.

Defense strategies

Tammy told the Press-Republican previously that she doesn’t believe her son killed Zindler, who died the morning of Oct. 11 from a “stabbing to the left side of the chest,” State Police said then.

Dr. Eric Gorman performed an autopsy and ruled the manner of death a homicide.

Details of the incident at 15 O’Hara Road in Black Brook haven’t been released yet, and Favro declined to discuss them Friday afternoon.

He said only that he couldn’t “get into details of the incident yet because there’s still a lot of evidence that needs to be investigated and run down.

“There are many different defense strategies that may come into play here, and as the next week or so plays out and different evidence is evaluated, one of those strategies may become clear.”

Struggle in the house

Tammy and her boyfriend of two years – Ricky Holmes, the owner of the home where the stabbing occurred — told the Press-Republican previously that they didn’t know exactly what happened the day of the stabbing, but they said it was clear there had been a struggle in the house.

Two bedroom doors had been torn from their hinges, they said, showing photos of the damage. A third door was damaged, blinds and the screen were torn from a window in a bedroom, and there were holes in the walls.

Tammy said her daughter — Savannah, 21, who was there during the stabbing — had been dating Zindler off and on for awhile and had bruising on her neck, back and lower lip that hadn’t been there the last time she saw her.

The relationship was rocky and the couple fought a lot, she said

She showed the Press-Republican text messages that indicated her son was afraid of Zindler.

Zindler served prison time from July 23, 2013, to June 19, 2015, on a felony conviction of aggravated criminal contempt for violating an order of protection.

Family members described him as a caring young man who was turning his life around.

Welch is tentatively scheduled to reappear in Clinton County Court Nov. 14.

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