Michael Paladino, who would have turned 44 years old today had he not been murdered by Quinten J. Edmonds on June 1, 2019, was remembered today in County Court as a loving son, brother, and father, but his aunts and mother, who each asked that Judge Charles Zambito give the lifelong criminal the maximum prison term available.
And so Zambito did, 20-years-to-life.
There was no expression of sympathy from the judge, even in response to an apology from Edmonds -- who didn't just react in the heat of the moment to Paladino's attempt to protect two women Edmonds was attacking: he took the time and effort to go to the apartment of an acquaintance on Ross Street and retrieve a knife.
“For whatever reason, you thought you had a score to settle with him," Zambito said. "You say you didn’t intend to kill him but when you stab somebody that many times with a knife, I don’t see how it can be reasonably viewed that you didn’t know he wouldn’t die from those injuries.”
Edmonds had told Zambito minutes before, "I take full responsibility for what happened and I apologize to the victim’s friends and family and to my family. This isn’t who I was raised to be and I didn’t intend to take anybody’s life that night. I was drinking and I took the situation too far and I’m sincerely sorry."
Family members said they will never recover from the death of Paladino.
"The loss of Michael has hurt our family beyond words," said Carol DiFrancisco, an aunt. "There are no more birthday parties, backyard parties, holidays, or other gatherings that will be the same. Our family is forever broken."
At the close of her statement, she said, "Quinten Edmonds has given Michael’s loving family a life sentence of eternal sadness.”
His aunt Nancy Elmore said, "He was a big man, not just from a physical standpoint but from the kindness of heart. His actions on June 1, 2019, will tell you that. Rendering aid to people he didn’t even know without regard to his own safety shows he was a kind, gentle, caring man."
The sister of Paladino's mother, Barbara Fay, read a statement on her behalf.
She said, "The pain will never go away for any of us. I don’t know how I could survive this if not for my loving family you see here. It helped me survive and pushed me forward."
She called Edmonds a brutal criminal who has no regard for human life.
"He should never walk free again to repeat his actions."
The family vowed to show up at his first parole hearing in about 20 years to oppose his potential release.
Throughout today's hearing, except when he was speaking, Edmonds sat motionless in his chair at the defense table and stared straight ahead. He never looked at any of the other speakers.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman also asked that Edmonds be shown no leniency in sentencing. He questioned Edmonds' claims that he was too intoxicated to know what he was doing and that he didn't intend to kill Paladino.
“He said he got the knife to scare Mike," Friedman said. "He didn’t need to scare Michael Paladino. He was the aggressor in this case and when he got to the corner he could have left. He did not and he got the knife because he intended to kill Michael Paladino."
Edmonds claims he was intoxicated, Friedman explained to Zambito, but he had the presence of mind to know to go to a residence he had been to before. He knew the residence well enough to know where to find a knife in the kitchen. Later, when Edmonds recounted events in his interview with a probation officer, he recalled details that are consistent with what witnesses said and the police investigation showed.
“There is no indication he was so intoxicated that he was incapable of planning a murder," Friedman said.
Friedman said Zambito's decision was all about how long he wanted to protect society from a person who is committing such a horrible crime.
Defense Attorney Fred Rarick did not request for his client anything other than the sentencing recommendation agreed to at the time of Edmonds' guilty plea in August. He says, however, while acknowledging that his statement would be subject to misinterpretation, that perhaps something good could come from the events of June 1: That rather than first jump into a situation where people are fighting and yelling, people should call 9-1-1 first. If Paladino had done that, Rarick said, perhaps this whole outcome could have been avoided.
That drew a bit of a rebuke from Zambito when he spoke.
“I trust Mr. Rarick is not trying to blame Michael Paladino because that would be an injustice.”
Zambito acknowledged that Edmonds had a difficult childhood. He didn't have a father. His mother struggled to raise him but, Zambito said, Edmonds had a "loving grandmother who tried to raise him right."
Even so, Edmonds' criminal history became when he was 12 years old and he then spent the next 20 years either confined or awaiting confinement.
“You had many opportunities to deal with those issues, issues you had to know you had, and you never did," Zambito said. "That one is on you. It’s one thing to say you come from a difficult background, you were brought up in difficult circumstances. But life isn’t fair and at some point you had to recognize you have a problem. You don’t deserve to live in the community. You’re too much of a risk, too much of a danger to the rest of us and to people like Michael Paladino.”
NOTE: At the end of the proceedings, DA Lawrence Friedman informed the court that during the pretrial sentencing investigation, a records check in Monroe County by the probation department found that the correct spelling of the defendant's first name is "Quinten." He moved to have all court documents corrected. Contrary to previous reports, we've used the spelling "Quinten" in this story.