Ti murder case headed to trial

ELIZABETHTOWN — Pretrial hearings are scheduled to begin Thursday in the case of a Ticonderoga man who is accused of murder in the killing of a friend last December.

Michael E. LaRock is due before Essex County Judge Richard Meyer as evidentiary hearings begin in his case for the killing of William T. “Liam” Brown.

Brown was 37 when he was shot to death Dec. 14 in a home on Lonergan Lane in Ticonderoga. His body was dumped in the LaChute River at Bicentennial Park a short time later.

LaRock was arrested four days later in connection with the killing and dumping of Brown’s remains, while LaRock’s father, Donald C. LaRock, 63, and their friend, Joshua W. Smith, 35, were accused of helping him try to conceal Brown’s body.

LaRock has been indicted on five charges, including second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon, aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, tampering with physical evidence and concealment of a human corpse.

His father and Smith have been charged with felony counts of hindering with prosecution, tampering with physical evidence and concealment of a human corpse.

Police believe the trio put Brown’s remains in a garbage bag and dumped them in the river, hoping the current would carry them to Lake Champlain. But water levels were low, so the bag remained in the river in the park.

Police believe Smith was present when the shooting occurred. LaRock fled the area hours later, and was eventually located in a friend’s mobile home in Norfolk, near the Canadian border in St. Lawrence County.

Brown was a retired U.S. Army veteran who served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and authorities have not said what led up to the shooting. His family members told The Press-Republican of Plattsburgh after the death that he had been trying to help friends with alcohol and drug problems, allowing them to stay at his home, before the killing occurred.

All three have pleaded not guilty, and are due in court on Thursday for pretrial hearings as trial approaches. The hearings are to focus on the admissibility of evidence, including statements to police, at their upcoming trials.

Michael LaRock is to stand trial starting Nov. 12, while his father and Smith are to stand trial on Dec. 9.

LaRock is being represented by Glens Falls attorney Eric Schwenker, who was assigned by the court to represent LaRock as an indigent person. The Essex County Public Defender’s Office is representing one of the co-defendants, which created a conflict of interest for the office with the remaining cases.

Schwenker, who also sits as a Queensbury town justice, said he had no comment on the case as of Tuesday.

Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague did not return a phone call for comment Tuesday.

Michael LaRock, who has a lengthy criminal history of drug- and alcohol-related offenses, faces up to 48 years to life in state prison if convicted of all charges and sentences are run consecutively.

His co-defendants face up to 12 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.

All three are being held in Essex County Jail pending further court action.