Convicted murderer’s attorneys: ‘We believed in him’ when he said Massena woman overdosed
Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 5:58 pm

Above, defense attorneys Peter Dumas, left, and Daniel Ramsey address members of the press following their client Christopher Hebert being convicted of murder. North Country This Week photo by Andy Gardner.

BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week

CANTON -- Attorneys representing Christopher Hebert say they believed in him when he told them Lacey Yekel died of an overdose. One of them believes their client’s knack for telling stories may have been what resulted in Thursday afternoon’s verdict.

Hebert, 47, was found guilty of second-degree murder following a weeklong trial and just under seven hours of jury deliberations. The jury decided that Hebert murdered Lacey Yekel on or around June 7, 2014 in Massena. Her skeletal remains were recovered from a wooded area near the Massena Industrial Park on Aug. 29, 2014.

Defense attorney Peter Dumas and his co-council, Daniel Ramsey, said it’s difficult to say which evidence or testimony may have been most persuasive. However, Dumas speculated that Hebert’s descriptions of killing Yekel may have sealed his fate.

On Wednesday, Hebert took the witness stand and testified in his own defense. He claimed Yekel died of an overdose after injecting cocaine. He also testified that he told several other witnesses he murdered Yekel as a story to gain clout among his criminal associates. The jury didn’t buy it.

“He told such a vibrant story that here we are,” defense attorney Peter Dumas said following the conviction

“This is a guy, I can honest say we believed in him,” according to the defense attorney. “You get to know somebody when you’re representing someone.”

“Through the bad and the good, we’re all human. The way he talked about it, we believed in him,” he said.

“All we can do is present the argument in the most compelling way we know how,” said Dan Ramsey, Dumas’s co-council on the case. “I’m proud of the jury and all Mr. Dumas and I were able to do,” he said, adding a congratulations to the District Attorney’s Office for their work on the case.

“You can never identify any issues a jury may have fixated on,” Ramsey said.

“Prosecutors and I have often scratched our heads,” Dumas said. “How did they use this to get that?”

Dumas said he expects Hebert to be sentenced up to life. He said the law requires an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life at minimum, and he could get up to 25 years to life.

“I expect we’re going to hear the word ‘life,’” Dumas said about his client’s potential sentence. “What the number before it is, I don’t know.”

“Anytime you’re representing somebody for this long, it’s a punch in the gut. The rest of his life hinged on that one moment,” Dumas said.