Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Garrow

Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant sign (Mark Gado)
Lake Pleasant sign
(Mark Gado)

The Adirondack town of Lake Pleasant is located 40 miles due north of Amsterdam, New York. It is a quiet community, which depends heavily on summer visitors for economic support.

The tourists come from New York City, Albany and other metropolitan areas to enjoy the lakes, hike the wilderness or simply relax in the serene beauty of the Adirondacks. Dozens of cottages and summer homes line the picturesque shores of Lake Pleasant, nestled in a cradle of low lying mountains and hills that are typical in the Hamilton County area. Located along State Route 8, the county municipal offices consist of a courthouse, a sheriff's office and a jail.

Hamilton County jail (Mark Gado)
Hamilton County jail
(Mark Gado)

Security for the trial was of the utmost concern to law enforcement officials since Garrow had already proven his tendency to escape from custody. Dozens of police officers surrounded the tiny court building and snipers were placed strategically around the intersection of Route 8, ready to take out Garrow should he decide to make a break. Some people thought police were overreacting since Garrow was confined to a wheelchair and hardly seemed capable of making an escape. During his capture on August 9, 1973, he was shot several times. He later claimed his wounds had paralyzed him on one side, though doctors disagreed over the severity of these injuries

But the trial would go forward nonetheless. After pretrial motions were settled, the decision was made to begin the legal process. Starting on May 9, 1974, more than 750 people were called for jury duty in Hamilton County. Attorneys Belge and Armani scrutinized the pool carefully, mindful of the tremendous amount of publicity generated by the Garrow case. Local officials were overwhelmed by the reporters who descended upon their community to cover the trial. By early June, a jury was selected that was acceptable to both prosecution and defense. The trial began on June 10.

One by one, Nick Fiorello, Daniel Freeman and Carol Malinowski testified about their experiences on the day of Phillip Domblewski's murder. They all identified Garrow and said he seemed to know exactly what he was doing during the entire time they watched him. Carol Malinowski testified that Garrow spoke to her at length during the ordeal but luckily, did not assault her. The prosecution team, led by Hamilton County D.A. William Intemann, also called crime scene technicians who described the campground where the murder took place. Dozens of articles of evidence were introduced, including crime scene photographs of the victim, which graphically portrayed the killing. One photograph displayed the lifeless body of Domblewski still tied to a tree, slumped over in a brutal execution-type slaying, that could only have been done by a cold-hearted killer. The impression was not lost on the jury.

On June 17, after what seemed like an airtight case against a smirking Robert Garrow, who often sat in his wheelchair mechanically taking notes, the defense began its case.

The first witness was Robert Garrow.

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