POTSDAM — St. Lawrence County Court Judge Gregory P. Storie has recused himself from the murder case against Michael J. Snow.
Snow, 31, of Massena, is charged with second-degree murder. He’s accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old SUNY Potsdam student Elizabeth M. Howell on Feb. 18, 2022, on College Park Road near campus.
District Attorney Gary M. Pasqua said there’s been no official reason given for Mr. Storie’s recusal. He will be replaced in St. Lawrence County Court by Judge Craig P. Carriero out of Franklin County.
“We were not provided with anything in writing as to the reason,” Mr. Pasqua said.
Mr. Pasqua said the new judge recently held a conference and gave Snow’s defense until Feb. 20 to schedule necessary pretrial hearings when the judge will rule on matters like the admissibility of evidence and the validity of any statements given to police. The defense also has the option to file to have the Feb. 20 deadline pushed back. Snow is represented by St. Lawrence County Chief Public Defender James M. McGahan, who on Friday afternoon declined a request for comment.
Mr. Pasqua said investigators still haven’t found the murder weapon. Should the gun not be found by the time the case goes to trial, he said it won’t affect the prosecution’s case.
“No, we haven’t found it to this point. However, based on the other evidence we gathered, we’re confident about moving forward with the case,” the DA said Friday afternoon.
A grand jury in April handed up an indictment charging Snow with four felonies: 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.
Last year, investigators searched rivers for the gun Snow allegedly used to kill Ms. Howell, along the route Snow is believed to have taken after the shooting near the SUNY Potsdam campus. He went east on Route 11B to Malone, north on Route 37 to Akwesasne and west on Route 37 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.
Snow was arrested the day after Ms. Howell’s murder, Feb. 19, 2022, in a police raid of his 250 Main St. apartment in Massena. Among the debris after the raid were two boxes of more than 100 spent miniature nitrous oxide canisters, which when huffed can cause hallucinations. There was also an unopened package of the canisters.
During Snow’s arraignment in April last year, Mr. Pasqua told Judge 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, 30-year-old Raymond G. Lancto III, also died in the 50 Park Ave. house, allegedly from a drug overdose on Oct. 8, 2020.
Witnesses at the scene of Ms. Howell’s murder near the Crane School of Music 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.”
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