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The Paul Novak murder trial is over, and many people are reflecting on the guilty verdict. As YNN's Eva McKend reports, one juror said the decision was not easy.
SULLIVAN COUNTY, N.Y. -- "I always really wanted to try to find him not guilty. I didn't want to convict anybody of murder in the first," said Lawrence Ricciarelli, a juror.
Ricciarelli was juror number five in a trial that captured the attention of many in Sullivan County. He and eleven others found Paul Novak guilty of murdering his wife Catherine in 2008, and setting their Narrowsburg home on fire to cover up the crime and collect more than $800,000 in insurance money.
"I tried to look at his face a lot during the trial. He never showed emotion. That was a telling sign for me," said Ricciarelli.
The juror says he didn't want to convict Novak and kept an open mind throughout the seven weeks of testimony.
He said he was almost at a turning point when Natalie Novak, Paul's 13 year-old daughter took the stand.
When Michelle LaFrance, Novak's ex-girlfriend, came forward last year, she said she lied about being Novak's alibi almost five years ago.
LaFrance testified she mislead police into believing all of the scratches on Novak's neck were from a cat rather than a struggle Novak had with Catherine when he was strangling her.
However, Novak's daughter testified she remembered seeing her father pick her up from school with those scratches when she was just nine on the day she saw her mother for the last time.
"When she said, the day he came to pick her up, the day before the murder, that she saw the scratch on her father’s face, that’s what I wanted to hear. But once James Farrell started doing the cross examination, the story kind of fell apart a little so I didn’t really take her testimony as being that credible," said Ricciarelli.
Ricciarelli said there was no smoking gun and a lot of circumstantial evidence, rather than DNA or forensic evidence.
"There were a couple of jurors that had some doubt and for good reason, I know a couple times we had the Decker transcript read back to us," said Ricciarelli.
Thomas Decker, Novak and LaFrance's former Long Island landlord, testified he never saw anyone leave or enter the residence on December 12, 2008. However, Ricciarelli says all the pieces still came together.
"I know at one point in the deliberating room, somebody said, well what about the kids but we couldn't think about the kids. Unfortunately, we know they are going to have a rough road but we were there to decide whether he killed his wife," said Ricciarelli.
Novak will be sentenced in December and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Ricciarelli said he knew Novak's life was in his hands, but the first time juror says he believes he made the right decision.