Justin Curran pleads not guilty in Hyde Park stabbing death
A Hyde Park man accused of stabbing a neighbor to death in November pleaded not guilty to the crime Thursday, officials said.
Justin Curran, 36, who is charged with second-degree murder, made his plea before Hyde Park Town Justice John Kennedy, said Dutchess County Senior Assistant District Attorney Edward Whitesell.
Curran is accused of fatally stabbing Laurie B. Ferguson, 67, whose body was found Nov. 22 -- Thanksgiving -- in her home at the Mobile Manor trailer park in Staatsburg. Ferguson was killed either that day or the night before, police have said.
Curran also pleaded not guilty to several charges, including kidnapping, assault and criminal contempt -- in connection with an unrelated domestic violence case that occurred Nov. 28-29 -- a week after the killing, Whitesell said.
Curran faces a sentence of 25 years to life on the murder charge if convicted, and he could be sentenced to an additional 25 years if convicted on all charges related to the domestic violence case.
An unemployed former sheet metal worker, Curran lived about 50 yards from Ferguson in the trailer park. He had lived in one trailer there with family members and then at another with friends.
Ferguson's body was found after a relative called asking police to check on her after she failed to appear at a social event.
Authorities recovered her car, a gray 2006 Saturn Ion, on Nov. 23 on Reservoir Road in Staatsburg.
Divers searched the Staatsburg Reservoir for clues in the days following the killing but came up empty. Police asked residents and business owners in the area to send in surveillance videos in hopes of finding leads.
State Police found Curran on Dec. 4 in Tampa with the help of U.S. marshals and local Florida agencies. Curran had been in Florida "a week or less" when found, authorities said. He has ties to Florida, authorities said, but they would not say what they are or how he was tracked.
Ferguson, who was estranged from her husband, lived alone in her trailer. Nothing was reported stolen from her home.
Curran has been held without bail in Albany County jail because of overcrowding at the Dutchess jail, Whitesell said. He will appear again in Hyde Park court on Jan. 8.
"Simply said, he is denying that he did it," said Curran's attorney, Bruce Petito of Poughkeepsie. "He didn't know the woman and he's not guilty."