Lake Pleasant, N.Y., June 19 - Two lawyers for a man on trial here for murder did not disclose for six months that they had seen the bodies of two other people killed by their client because, they said, they were bound by the confidentiality of a lawyer-client relationship.
The court-appointed attorneys said today that their client had told them where to find the bodies of two missing women. They photographed the bodies, they said, but did not report the discoveries to authorities searching for the murder victims.
The lawyers also said they had kept their discovery from the father of one of the women, who had visited them in the hope that they could shed some light on the disappearance of his 20 year-old daughter.
"The information was so privileged - I was bound by my lawyer's oath to keep it confidential after I found the bodies," said Francis Belge, one of the two lawyers representing Robert Garrow. Mr. Garrow, a 38 year-old mechanic for a Syracuse bakery, is accused of fatally stabbing Philip Domblewski, and 18 year-old Schenectady student who was camping in the Adirondacks last July.
From what his lawyers said in a news conference today, as well as from what Mr. Garrow has - sometimes incoherently - blurted out in court, the defendant may be connected to at least four murders.
Mr. Belge and his associate on the case, Frank Armani, told of the secret they had kept at a news conference in this Adirondack village. They indicated that they could come forth now, released from their obligation by Mr. Garrow's own testimony yesterday. At that time the defendant implicated himself in Essex County Court.
The Police Chief of Syracuse, where one of the women's bodies was ultimately found, said he would ask the Onondaga District Attorney to bring charges against the lawyers. The prosecutor could not be reached for comment.
[According to a number of legal authorities in New York City, the issue of what a lawyer should do when apprised by his client of criminal action is a gray area.]
According to Mr. Belge, Mr. Garrow told him of raping and killing a woman in an abandoned mine shaft near Mineville, N.Y. The lawyer said this information was provided by Mr. Garrow a few weeks after the suspect was wounded and captured last August 9 following a manhunt involving 200 troopers and others.
Some three weeks later Mr. Belge said he discovered the body of Susan Petz, a 20 year-old woman from Skokie, Ill. She had been missing since July 20, when the body of her camping companion, Daniel Porter, a Harvard student, was found near Weavertown.
"We passed the shaft 10 times before I found it with a flashlight at twilight," Mr. Belge said. "Frank lowered me into the shaft by my feet and I took pictures."
The finding of Miss Petz's body was reported to the state police four months later by two children who had been playing in the mine.
Meanwhile, Mr. Belge said Miss Petz's father visited him because his client, Mr. Garrow, had been unofficially linked to killings in the area.
"I spent many, many sleepless nights over my inability to reveal the information, especially after Mr. Petz came in from Chicago and talked to me." Mr. Belge said.
The lawyer found the second body at the end of September. He said that while Mr. Garrow provided a rough diagram locating Miss Petz's body, in the second instance he gave only a general description of an area in Syracuse near Syracuse University.
There in Oakwood Cemetery, Mr. Belge said, he found the body of Alicia Hauck, a 16 year-old high school girl who disappeared from her home in Syracuse nearly two months earlier, on July 11.
Miss Hauck's body was ultimately found and reported by a Syracuse University student on December 1. In the intervening months, her father, the owner of a bowling alley in Syracuse, and the police, were treating the case as that of a runaway and were advertising pleas for the girl to come home.
"We both, knowing how the parents must feel, wanted to advise them where the bodies were," Mr. Belge said. "But since it was a privileged communication we could not reveal any information that was given to us in confidence."
Both lawyers had apparently felt the weight of the confidence they honored until today. "Death is difficult enough to accept," Mr. Armani said, "but worrying and wondering, it'll drive you insane."
In his testimony yesterday, Mr. Garrow blurted out that he was "embarrassed" and tearfully said that wile he could not remember specific rapes and murders he had pieced together the story of his involvement in the killings from accounts given by authorities and his lawyers. He did not identify the victims by name, but the details and locations he cited coincided with known details of the murders.