BATAVIA, NY -- Following a conviction for murder, 2nd, by a jury of 12 honest Genesee County residents today, Corfu resident Scott Franklin Doll, 48, is facing a possible state prison sentence of at least 15 years to life for beating to death Joseph Benaquist, 66, on Feb. 16, 2009.
"How do you find the defendant, Scott F. Doll, charged with murder in the second degree, guilty or not guilty?" a court clerk asked the woman appointed as jury foreperson. The woman answered "Guilty," and people on both sides of the aisle in the courtroom let out gasps.
At least two women sitting on the defense side began to cry and sob immediately, with at least one person rushing from the courtroom in tears.
Judge Robert C. Noonan set July 2 as the sentencing date and Doll, who came to court in a pressed blue suit, stood motionless as the verdict was declared. He displayed no emotion as he was escorted from the courtroom by deputies to a holding cell in the courthouse.
His attorney, Paul Cambria, met with him privately for about 20 minutes after the verdict and said later that Doll's first words were, “I’m an innocent man and I’ve just been convicted of a crime."
Cambria said there will definitely be an appeal.
"We have a very strong issue on appeal that we intend to pursue," Cambria said. "I’m going to look forward to this conviction being reversed and for us to retry this case at another time."
Cambria's main point of appeal, he said, is the continued questioning by investigators after Doll repeatedly asked to speak to an attorney.
"New York State has the strongest right-to-counsel law probably of all 50 states," Cambria said.
Doll asked for an attorney very soon after being confronted by Sheriff's Deputies on North Lake Road on Feb. 16.
In pre-trial motions, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued that under what is known as the "emergency doctrine" -- when investigators believe they must get information from a person in order to save a life -- they can continue to question a suspect who has asked for an attorney.
Cambria will likely challenge the use of statements by Doll against him at trial, especially, perhaps, those made after Benaquist's body was found and the emergency doctrine might no longer at issue.
Both Friedman and Sheriff Gary Maha were clearly pleased with the outcome, stating that the right verdict was reached.
"We just hoped the jury would see the truth and see past the defense that was raised," Friedman said. "We are very pleased with the outcome."
Maha said there was never any doubt in his mind that Doll was the killer.
"He lied from the beginning," Maha said. "There was no way he was telling the truth in his testimony. Based on what I saw at the scene, the amount of blood, there is no way he could explain that without being involved."
Maha characterized Cambria's closing argument as fabrications and speculation.
"There is no evidence there at all," Maha said. "I think the jury saw through that and concentrated on the evidence and came out with the right verdict."
Friedman, in his closing argument, called Cambria's defense theories, "speculation." Cambria said after the verdict today that he found Friedman's characterization ironic.
"They (the prosecution) do that all the time (claim "speculation")," Cambria said. "That’s a standard argument that is made. It’s interesting that when that argument was made, the District Attorney then went into all of these various scenarios that no one testified about and we thought, ‘Where’s the speculation coming from?’ Talking about people under cars and the jacks and there wasn’t any of that evidence in the case."
What the case came down to, Friedman said, was Doll's motivation kill Joseph Benaquist.
"As I said in my opening and my closing, it was all about cars and money," Friedman said. "I still believe that’s the case. Whether this was a premeditated murder for those reasons or whether there was an argument that led to this happening, I firmly believe that’s what it was about."
Even though he isn't happy with the verdict, Cambria -- who has had an unshakable faith in Doll's innocence for 15 months -- said he still believes in the system.
"I have never criticized the system," Cambria said. "I believe in the system. I obviously think the verdict was the wrong one. I can’t recall a case that I’ve had that had as many reasonable doubts as this case had."
Joe Benaquist's stepsons, John and Josh Garcia, said they felt it was nice to see the system work.
"It doesn't bring our dad back," John said, "but it does bring a little closure."
Joe's girlfriend, Judy Scott, said, "My heart goes out to Scott's family. They don't deserve this. They seem like a good family."
She declined further comment.
Friedman credited volunteer firefighter James Waff with making the key difference in the case.
"Right from the start of this case, having a citizen call in a suspicious person walking down the road and doing the right thing -- look what it led to," Friedman said. "I’m not sure how this case would have turned out if that person had not made that phone call to the Sheriff’s department."
Photos: Top, Lawrence Friedman; first inset, Sheriff Gary Maha; second inset, Paul Cambria; Bottom, Cambria and Daniel Killelea exit the Genesee County Courtroom to meet with the media.