CANTON — St. Lawrence County’s top prosecutor says he expects motion hearings and a trial in the murder case against Michael J. Snow to be scheduled “relatively quickly.”
Snow, 31, of Massena, is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old SUNY Potsdam student Elizabeth M. Howell on Feb. 18. St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary M. Pasqua has called the murder “a random act of violence.”
Mr. Pasqua said his office has completed its discovery obligations, meaning Snow’s defense counsel has received all the evidence that may be introduced and all witnesses that may be called at trial.
“The motions, I believe, will be filed relatively soon. All the discovery has been completed. I think that’s what defense counsel was really waiting for. I think the process will speed up at this point once motions are filed,” he said. “I expect hearings and a trial to be scheduled relatively quickly, probably by the beginning of next year.”
Snow is being held at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility in Canton without bail. Mr. Pasqua said he’s not concerned with Snow being released prior to the case resolving, and his office has met all of the required milestones throughout the legal process.
“We have to be ready for trial in a certain amount of time. We’ve already announced (we’re) ready for trial,” the DA said.
Mr. Pasqua said the court determining if a defendant has been held too long happens on “a case-by-case basis” and “we’re nowhere near that at this point.”
“I don’t think this process has been overly long,” he added. “He’s (jailed) pending the legal process. He’s been indicted. We’ve announced ready for trial.”
Public defender James M. McGahan, who is representing Snow,did not respond to a request for comment.
Investigators have recently searched rivers for the gun Snow allegedly used to kill Ms. Howell, along the route Snow is believed to have taken after the shooting on College Park Road near the SUNY Potsdam campus. He went east on Route 11B to Malone, north on Route 37 to Akwesasne and west on Route 37 back to Massena. State police divers the week of Aug. 22 searched the Raquette and St. Regis rivers below bridges that cross those waters along Route 37 in Akwesasne. In May, state police divers searched the west branch of the St. Regis River below a bridge along Route 11B. They didn’t find the weapon.
A grand jury in April handed up an indictment charging Snow with four felonies stemming from Ms. Howell’s murder: second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and first-degree criminal use of a firearm. He has denied the charges. If convicted of murder, Snow faces up to a life sentence in state prison.
Snow was arrested the day after Ms. Howell’s murder, Feb. 19, in a police raid of his 250 Main St. apartment in Massena. During Snow’s arraignment in April, Mr. Pasqua told St. Lawrence County Judge Gregory P. Storie that investigators recovered a sawed-off shotgun while executing a search warrant at Snow’s apartment. That weapon is not believed to be tied to the murder.
Although Snow was arrested at the Main Street apartment, during his arraignment he told Judge Storie that he lives at 50 Park Ave. in Massena. He inherited the 50 Park Ave. house from his mother, Paula N. Snow, after she died there on April 1, 2019, allegedly by suicide. A friend of Snow’s, Raymond G. Lancto III, 30, also died in the 50 Park Ave. house, from a suspected drug overdose on Oct. 8, 2020.
Witnesses at the scene of Ms. Howell’s murder near the Crane School of Music on the evening of Feb. 18 told police they heard three shots fired from a gray four-door sedan, and they directed responding officers to the victim, who had fled a short distance on foot.
Ms. Howell was found unconscious at 5:51 p.m. that day, and responding officers initiated lifesaving measures. She was then taken to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, where she died just before 7 p.m., officials said. Mr. Pasqua has said that Snow had no connection to Ms. Howell prior to the shooting.
Ms. Howell was studying music education at the Crane School of Music.
Her parents, Joe and Ann Howell, spoke about their daughter’s murder with The New York Post in February at the family’s home in Patterson, Putnam County, about 60 miles north of New York City. They said she was likely “a random victim in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The couple described Elizabeth, called Beth by family and friends, as “a talented musician, a dear friend, an all-around great person.” She was a cellist who performed with the Crane Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Howell said his daughter was “always willing to help you out.”