Lawyers for Rutland County sheriff’s deputy Vito Caselnova made the filing by citing insufficient evidence from the grand jury. They also pointed to a defective process for the entire proceeding.
The judge’s 30-page decision agreed with their arguments. One of the points included Caselnova’s justification for use of deadly force to defend himself and his girlfriend.
“The court’s thorough decision allows this case to be represented to a grand jury,” Caselnova’s attorney Greg Teresi said. “As such, we stand ready to tell our story of self defense. A right which is granted to all citizens of this Country for good reason, all of which is captured on camera as detailed by the decision.”
There are currently no charges filed against Caselnova. The judge’s ruling allows for the prosecution to re-present their case to a new grand jury. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen issued the following statement:
“Even though the Court’s decision dismissed the indictment against Vito Caselnova, the Court has given our office leave to re-present the same case regarding Mr. Caselnova to a new grand jury. The Court’s decision raised issues with the way the case was presented–it does not absolve Mr. Caselnova of any wrongdoing. We will take our time to thoroughly review the court’s concerns and will move forward with the case.”
Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim criticized the district attorney after reading the judge’s decision. He issued a statement, saying, “I have been disappointed in the District Attorney’s performance in this case since the shooting occurred on November 20, 2022. Instead of focusing on the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators, the DA focused her attention on trying to block me from speaking to Saratogians and visitors about this dangerous situation. Obviously, her erratic and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to gag me, which was roundly rejected by a Judge, kept her from competently performing her core duty—prosecuting Vito Caselnova. I hope she takes the just criticism of the Judge seriously, stops misstating facts, and focuses on bringing the individuals who were involved in this shooting to justice.”
In the days following the shooting, DA Heggen issued a temporary gag order against Saratoga Springs officials. The order demanded that city officials, including the mayor, public safety commissioner, and public and elected employees acting in official capacity could not continue to release video footage, audio transcripts or publicly discuss the case. It was dismissed in December.
The shooting took place in the early morning of November 20 on Caroline Street. It began as an altercation between Caselnova and a group from Utica. Gunshots were fired, and nearby Saratoga Springs police officers responded.
Officers said they shouted at Caselnova to drop the gun at least eight times before three officers discharged their weapons. Caselnova’s attorney said his client didn’t hear the commands. Three people, including Caselnova, were hospitalized.
Caselnova was facing multiple charges in the initial indictment, including attempted murder, assault, and reckless endangerment. The three men from Utica, who were also charged in the incident, have pleaded not guilty to attempted assault.
The judge’s ruling can be read in-full below: