Rochester / Brighton, N.Y. --- The lawyer for Max Wyant was reluctant last week to state that he was seeking a self-defense justification but now confirms that is what he's looking for the jury to consider.
Wyant, 24, is accused of 2nd Degree Murder in the shooting death of Christopher "C.J." Schoen, 21. Schoen was a former roomate of Wyant's at the Hartfeld Drive home where the shooting occurred. Wyant shot Schoen twice with a shotgun and the first of those shots was a rubber "less than lethal" round. The second was buckshot. Prosecutors say this was an act of intentional murder.
Testimony on Monday resumed with Steven Hartman, 23, taking the stand. Hartman was the third roomate in that home, having at one time shared it with both Wyant and Schoen. He also told the jury he witnessed the shooting in the hallway while he was just a few feet away in the dining room.
"He (Schoen) was facing the front door as he was walking out of the house," Hartman said of where Schoen was when he was shot. He later explained that he helped Wyant and a friend of Schoen's who was at the scene too (Matthew Mitchell, witness #1 at this trial) carry Schoen's body from the hallway to the walkway just outside the front door. That is where police first found Schoen's body around 5:27 p.m. when the first officer arrived on scene.
Hartman also explained that another girl, Caroline, was at the home that day and assisted in an attempt to use paper towels to stop the bleeding. Hartman said to the jury that when he called 911 the, "first thing I said was the first thing that popped to my mind was that it was self-defense."
But Hartman's initial call to 911 appeared to have a number of inconsistencies in it, and he admitted to that while on the witness stand Monday.
When asked by the dispatcher if Schoen was shot Hartman said, "I don't know, I honestly don't know. Like I said I was upstairs in my room playing games and trying to look for a job."
Four minutes later on the same call, the dispatcher asked Hartman what Wyant said happened and Hartman replied, "He (Schoen) came at him, he came at him with."
Hartman's voice trailed off and the dispatcher encouraged more of a response and Hartman said, "I guess he (Wyant) shot him and (those) were the loud noises."
When the dispatcher asked how many times Wyant shot Schoen he replied, "I think I heard two bangs that was it."
After Hartman's testimony Brighton Police Investigator Mike Liberatore was called to the witness stand and discussed the more than three-hour interview he conducted with Max Wyant following the shooting. The interview was videotaped and played for the jury Monday afternoon. In it, Wyant cries at times, screams at times, and at times calmly explains a situation. In that interview, Wyant further described what he believed was a self-defense situation.
"He (Schoen) is a very violent person and he was emotionally abusive while he was there," Wyant is heard telling the investigator on the videotape. "The man (Schoen) is a psychotic sociopath and doesn't care about anybody but himself."
Wyant said he had told Schoen after he moved out not to return to the home and told investigators how he replaced the locks and the door to the home.
"Why didn't he listen when I told him not to come back?" Wyant asked the investigator at one point in the interview.
"I told him to go, why didn't he just go?" he later said.
Testimony in this trial resumes Tuesday. 13WHAM News has made a request for a copy of Wyant's videotaped interview with police once it has been played in its entirety for the jury.