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State's highest court reviewing murder conviction of Scott Doll

The murder conviction of Scott Doll, and whether he should have been read his Miranda warnings prior to questioning, will be reviewed by New York's highest court, according to an AP story on the Wall Street Journal's Web site.

The Court of Appeals heard arguments on Tuesday and could issue a ruling within a month.

Doll was convicted in a jury trial May 20, 2010 of murdering Joseph Benaquist, a friend, fellow former corrections officer, and a business partner.

On a cold winter night, Feb. 16, 2009, Doll was spotted by Deputy James Diehl, walking on Lake Road, Pembroke, wearing blood-soaked coveralls and carrying a tire iron.

Initially, Doll reportedly said the blood came from a butchered deer. Investigators were skeptical and questioned him for several hours.

At trial, defense attorney Paul Cambria tried to get Doll's statements thrown out because Doll had not been read his rights. The prosecution countered -- and Judge Robert C. Noonan upheld -- that under rules known as the "emergency doctrine," law enforcement can question a person without reading that person his rights.

The fear, according to the prosecution, was that a person was badly injured and in need of immediate medical attention.

The defense has maintained that without any actual evidence that a person was in fact hurt the emergency doctrine does not apply.

Some of the statements used against Doll where made to a friend who came to the Sheriff's Office on Park Road to talk with him while he was being held there. An investigator was in the room, taking notes during the conversation.

Even if the court rules in favor of Doll, the court would not necessarily order a new trial, but that could be a possible outcome if jurists find that Doll should have been read his rights prior to questioning, or at some point earlier in the investigation.

At trial, evidence against Doll included his blood-splattered overalls, titles and receipts for cars he and Benaquist bought and sold, and his proximity to the murder scene. At the start of the trial, Cambria raised the possibility that one of Doll's sons did the deed, but Doll's son had an alibis for the time of the murder. The prosecution's case largely rested on "if not Scott Doll, then who?"

Doll was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. 

He subsequently beat a jail contraband charge in a trial in City Court over some white powder found in a balloon on his body after his conviction. The powder turned out to be aspirin.

At the time of his arrest in 2009, he was already an announced candidate for mayor in the Village of Corfu. He lost the election to incumbent Todd Skeet.

For our prior Scott Doll coverage, click here.

Daniel Jones
daniel.jones's picture
Joined: May 2 2008

I really hope that wasn't an oversight error. If it was and it's proven, he'll walk. The thought of a man guilty of murdering someone else walking the streets because no one gave him his Miranda warning is nauseating. I wasn't there, so I don't know, but I don't have a good feeling about this.

barb king
Barb King's picture
Joined: Jan 29 2010

skeet . LOL

Mark Brudz
Markb's picture
Joined: Feb 9 2012

I don't see this as an oversight at all Daniel, I read it as Doll's attorney is questioning the application of the 'Emergency Doctrine' in this case. On a purely academic view, it is going to be an interesting debate in front of the court' on two counts

1) Should an officer encountering someone drenched in blood have to worry about a legal minutia or a valid concern that someone could be dying nearby, were should his priority lie.

2) If a person of interest again covered in blood and somewhat confused is even capable of understanding his rights at that particular time.

While the rights of the accused are among some of our most sacred rights, there are circumstances where voluntary statements and such have been ruled absolutely acceptable.

I suppose the true question here is at what point did the Officers determine that a Homicide was committed and Doll was the suspect, and what point was Doll considered a possible victim or witness.

The way I see it, 'An Oversight' isn't the issue, a conscious decision by someone might be. Truly a tough call in this particular case the way things apparently went down.

Beth Kinsley
ekinsley's picture
Joined: Aug 22 2008

Mark - don't forget he was carrying a tire iron. Covered in blood and carrying a tire iron. It seems like the Emergency Doctrine should apply in that case but I am no criminal law expert.

Mark Brudz
Markb's picture
Joined: Feb 9 2012

I thought that was pretty much what I was saying, my only point was that it to me is going to be an interesting debate before the court.

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