Tupper Lake woman pleads guilty to killing mother
TUPPER LAKE — A Tupper Lake woman pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder for intentionally killing her mother at their home in July, according to Franklin County District Attorney Elizabeth Crawford.
In lieu of a hearing before Franklin County Judge Craig Carriero on Friday, which would have led to a trial, 26-year-old Alexa J. Gallagher agreed to take a plea offer for the charge of second-degree murder, “with intent,” a felony. She faces a minimum of 19 years in prison for killing her mother, Melissa Guiswhite, and a maximum of life in prison. Guiswhite was 51.
Gallagher was represented by Attorney Peter Dumas, who had not responded for comment by press time.
Crawford said she recommended the court sentence Gallagher to a prison term of 19 years to life, and the court has agreed. This means Gallagher will be eligible for parole in 19 years.
Gallagher is scheduled for sentencing on May 30 before Carriero.
“I’m pleased with the outcome, the family is pleased with the outcome and New York State Police are pleased with the outcome,” Crawford said. “Nineteen years to life is a hefty sentence and I think it’s appropriate in this matter. … It was a horribly tragic case.”
According to a press release from Crawford’s office, “Gallagher intentionally caused the death of her mother … by stabbing her with a knife.”
Crawford said she still doesn’t truly know why Gallagher turned on her mother.
“There was a fight at the home that resulted in the mother’s untimely death,” Crawford said. “But I’ve never been presented with a motive.”
“I extend my gratitude to all law enforcement agencies that swiftly responded to this horrific incident,” Crawford wrote in a statement. “Their dedication to the safety of our communities and thorough investigation resulted in the defendant pleading guilty to murder as charged. Franklin County is a safer place today.”
On July 28, 2022, Tupper Lake village police and New York State Police responded to a home at 50 Lakeview Ave. at around 1 p.m., where State Police say they found Guisewhite deceased.
Crawford said on Friday that Guiswhite had called 911 for help, but was killed before police could arrive.
State Police said Gallagher fled on foot after the homicide and was caught by State Police and state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers in an unoccupied neighboring residence, where she was taken into custody.
Next-door neighbors were shocked on the day of the murder.
Friends of Guisewhite remembered her as “a great friend” who comforted others in hard times and a “delightful” hiking partner who “would give you the shirt off her back.” Guisewhite worked as a caregiver for the elderly.
Friends told the Enterprise she was a spiritual person who would talk about being a positive influence on the world. She had recently lost her father, and friends recalled how she had consoled them when their families grieved losses.
Guisewhite and Gallagher moved to Tupper Lake from Pennsylvania in 2017 with Guisewhite’s husband Mark.