Amish girls kidnappers trial delayed until spring

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Nicole Vaisey Stephen Howells_1766626682061409848

The federal trial of a Hermon couple on kidnapping and sexual exploitation charges has been delayed until the spring. Thirty nine year old Stephen Howells II and 25 year old Nicole Vaisey were both arrested last August, shortly after two Amish girls were kidnapped from a roadside stand at their family farm in Heuvelton and then released about 24 hours later. Their trial was originally scheduled to begin Monday, but has now been moved to March. No reason was given for the delay. Both are facing charges of sexual exploitation involving the Amish girls as well as three other young girls. Howells is also facing charges of possessing child pornography. Costs continue to go up for the planned second courtroom being sought for Watertown City Hall. The price tag for the expansion is now estimated to be $1.6 million. The original projection was just under $1 million. The city’s hand is being forced into building a second courtroom as the state’s Fifth Judicial District requires both of the city’s full time judge’s have their own court room. Earlier this year, Judge Catherine Palemero was promoted by the state to full time judge, joining Judge Eugene Renzi. Since the promotion, both have been sharing the same courtroom. Tonight, the Watertown City Council will vote on hiring a Rochester firm to draw up design plans for that second courtroom. The Garret Philips murder case will go before a St. Lawrence County grand jury again in January. District Attorney Mary Rain plans on resubmitting the case to a second grand jury in an attempt to bring murder charges against Oral “Nick” Hillary. Hillary was initially charged with second degree murder by a grand jury last spring, but that indictment was thrown out by Judge Jerome Richards, who accused Rain of bulling Hillary’s daughter during testimony in that hearing. The twelve year old Phillips was found strangled in his Potsdam apartment home back in October 2011. The plan to build a dog park in the City of Watertown took another step forward over the weekend as neighborhood businesses and residents on Factory St. met with city officials to go over the details of the project. Earlier this month, The Watertown City Council chose Factory Square Park as the site for the dog park. Fundraising efforts will begin soon, which is being spearheaded by Councilman Steve Jennings and handled through the Northern New York Community Foundation. The logo for the proposed dog park was released last Friday. A student at Sackets Harbor Central School is in trouble after bringing an airsoft pellet gun to school grounds on Friday. The pellet gun was found inside the 17 year old’s car and was never brought inside the school. School officials say students were never in any danger and the school was never put into lock down. The school is investigating and has disciplined the student, although his name was not released. The public was notified of the incident through a statement put on the district’s website on Friday. 

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