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Waiting To Exhale

Waiting To Exhale

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As the final suspect in New Hartford police Officer Joseph Corr's 2006 slaying hobbled his way into Oneida County Court for the first time Wednesday morning, every limp he took was followed by the eyes of Corr's still-grieving colleagues.

"We're all still waiting to exhale because that will come when the whole prosecution is done," New Hartford police Chief Raymond Philo said moments after the proceeding.

Judge Michael L.

Dwyer entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Robert Ward, 31, of Smyrna, Del.

It could not be learned why Ward walks with a limp, although that characteristic was a factor in him being identified as the suspect in a separate robbery case in New Jersey, authorities said.

Here, Ward faces 19 charges, including second-degree murder and robbery.

He is due back in court Tuesday to be assigned an attorney.

Although Corr was shot by another suspect, Ward is believed to have been one of the four men involved in the $1 million robbery at Lennon's-W.B.

Wilcox jewelry store on Commercial Drive that preceded the chase that ended with Corr's death the night of Feb.

27, 2006.

Corr pursued two suspects â€" Walter Richardson Jr.

and Toussaint Davis â€" while Ward and another suspect, Marion "Dump" Pegese, fled in a separate vehicle, police say.

Pegese was arraigned on the same charges as Ward last month, and he is due to appear in court Friday to report on the status of his case.

Prosecutors said Ward and Pegese likely will stand trial together in September or early this fall.

'I will never forgive' Just as she did during Pegese's first court appearance in June, Corr's mother, Kathy Corr, sat quietly in the courtroom as Ward made his brief debut.

Although soft spoken in her words, Kathy Corr's comments after the proceeding reflected the grief that has haunted her for more than three years.

"I will not have an end as a mom," Kathy Corr said.

"I can never forget.

I will never forgive." This has been a long journey for Corr's family and his law enforcement colleagues, they said, that was marked by various milestones: Suspect Richardson was killed in a shootout with U.S.

Marshals in Pennsylvania the day following the fatal robbery.

Davis is facing 300 years in prison for Corr's death, although that conviction is facing appeal.

Now, the pending trial of Ward and Pegese.

The two men were facing charges in New Jersey for a similar jewelry store robbery in 2005.

Only after they pleaded guilty last year and were sentenced on those charges could Oneida County prosecutors begin making arrangements to transport them to New York.

A series of delays dragged out that process for months, but Philo said investigators used the time "productively" to prepare for the day the two suspects finally appeared in local court.

'These guys are pretty tight' Prosecutors believe Pegese, 36, of Rahway, N.J., was the ringleader behind the New Hartford robbery.

Ward was an associate, they say.

Together, they likely engaged in several similar robberies across the Northeast, many of which never have been solved, Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Hameline said.

The New Hartford robbery, however, was different, Hameline said.

This time, Hameline said, the suspects failed to realize that a Lennon's employee had called 911 while hiding in a back room.

"Nobody would have had a clue who committed this robbery" if it wasn't for that phone call, Hameline said.

When Ward and Pegese do stand trial, Hameline said he doesn't expect either one to testify against the other.

"These guys are pretty tight," Hameline said.

"I don't think any of these guys are going to jeopardize anyone else."
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