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Ogdensburg murder trial opening set for this morning

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CANTON — While four alternate jurors were selected Thursday to supplement 12 jurors in the murder trial of three Ogdensburg men in St. Lawrence County Court, opening statements did not begin as expected, and the trial now is slated to begin at 10 a.m. today.

Investigators said Ralph E. “Gene” Lawton, 83, died after a scuffle during a robbery by Anthony W. Lalonde, Michael S. Thorpe and Michael D. Durand at Mr. Lawton’s Ford Street apartment in Ogdensburg on Nov. 18, 2010. Mr. Lalonde, then 31, of 1106 Ford St., Mr. Thorpe, then 25, of 904 Elizabeth St., and Mr. Durand, then 29, of 513 Elizabeth St., were charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

The main panel of 12 jurors was seated Monday through Wednesday. Judge Jerome J. Richards is presiding over the trial, which he said could last two to four weeks.

The judge said Wednesday that opening statements had been expected to begin Thursday afternoon, but the process moved somewhat more slowly than officials expected, both in its own right and while other court activity, including a grand jury handing up indictments in unrelated cases, continued Thursday.

Mr. Lawton and his 64-year-old roommate, Guy C. Bartlett, were home when the trio allegedly entered the apartment wearing masks, caused a scuffle that left Mr. Lawton mortally injured and then fled with more than $1,000 and prescription drugs.

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