On Tuesday, November 14, a jury in Westchester County Court acquitted Jason Myers of the intentional murder of his girlfriend Ashley McDuffie in August of 2016. The jury deliberated for less than two full days before finding Myers guilty of a lesser-included charge, holding instead that Myers recklessly caused Ms. McDuffie’s death.
Daniel T. Mentzer and Greg Sheindlin, of counsel to Pappalardo & Pappalardo, LLP, represented Meyers in a two-week trial before Judge Barbara Zambelli in the Westchester County Court. The defense made clear to the jury from the outset that Myers was responsible for Ms. McDuffie’s death, but that he never intended to kill her.
On August 19, 2016, Myers and Ms. McDuffie quarreled. At some point, Myers put his arm around Ms. McDuffie’s neck in a chokehold that resulted in her death. The defense maintained that it was an accident and that he had only been attempting to restrain her during a heated argument; there were no other cuts or bruises found on Ms. McDuffie’s body that would point to a violent struggle. Myers suffered from such remorse for killing Ms. McDuffie that he voluntarily confessed to the police one week later. He then led police to her body, which he had hidden in a park in the Bronx.
The prosecution attempted to prove that Myers intended to seriously injure or kill Ms. McDuffie that night. Originally charging Myers with Murder in the Second Degree (intent to cause death of another, resulting in their death), the prosecution claimed certain evidence – including Ms. McDuffie’s silence in the days prior to her death, and the fact that Myers left Ms. McDuffie’s body in a park in the Bronx – pointed to Myers’ intention to kill Ms. McDuffie.
However, the jury disagreed with the prosecution, acquitting Myers of the top charge. Myers was also acquitted of Manslaughter in the First Degree (intent to cause serious physical injury to another, resulting in their death). He was instead found guilty of the lesser-included charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree (recklessly causing death of another), as well as Concealment of a Human Corpse.
“The jury had their work cut out for them, as this was an emotional case dealing with the death of a young mother,” said Mr. Mentzer, lead counsel in the case. “I’m pleased that the men and women of this jury correctly evaluated the case and the issues presented.”
“There are no winners in a case like this,” said John D. Pappalardo, managing partner of Pappalardo & Pappalardo, LLP. “Ms. McDuffie’s family has lost someone very important to them, and we extend our sympathies for their loss. Jason is extremely remorseful, and the situation is a tragedy for everyone involved.”
Had Mr. Mentzer and Mr. Sheindlin not prevailed at trial, Myers would have faced 25 years to life in prison. Myers, who has no prior criminal record, will instead face a maximum of 5 to 15 years in state prison on the Manslaughter in the Second Degree conviction. His sentencing is currently scheduled for December 14.
- Click the images below to read more about Jason Myers’ case: