Aaron Powell found guilty of double murder

By Kelly McCarthy
By Anna Norris

July 24, 2014 Updated Jul 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A jury in Broome County Court found Aaron Powell, 40, guilty of two counts of murder in the second degree and one count of murder in the first degree.

He's convicted of killing his estranged wife Christina Powell, 35, and her friend, Mario Masciarelli, 24.

The jury reached the verdict shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday after deliberating for two hours.

Before the verdict was read aloud, Judge Joseph Cawley asked everyone in the courtroom to remain silent, but once family and friends heard the word "guilty," many of them broke down crying.

Family and friends of both victims, Christina Powell and Mario Masciarelli, declined to talk to media outside the courthouse, but Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen, who prosecuted the case, was pleased with the jury's decision, but admitted verdicts sometimes can't change the result.

"These things at the end are never happy," Mollen said, "because at the end of the day, you're not bringing the victims back. But, you're doing the best you can."

Defense attorney Tom Cline also declined comment, saying only as he walked away, there would be an appeal.

Aaron Powell has not set foot in the courtroom for any part of his trial.

"I think it was a serious mistake for many reasons, but he chose that option," Mollen said.

Mollen spoke to the press outside Broome County Court where he said this trial should send a message to people in the community.

"It's a horrible crime and it's a horrible tragedy, and other {than that} to just say, 'Do you think you're going to get away with this?'" Mollen said. "I hope the answer's clear. You're going to have every police agency in the county, in the state, you're going to have every investigator, you're going to have every prosecutor."

Closing arguments for the trial were given Thursday morning.

Unlike his brief opening statement, defense attorney Tom Cline gave nearly an hourlong closing argument after calling just one witness.

In his closing, Cline repeated many times that Aaron Powell was not only the prime suspect, but the only suspect.

A quote saying "It's easy to be number one when you're the only one" was displayed on a PowerPoint during most of Cline's speech.

He reminded jurors they have been asked not to make assumptions during the trial. Cline pointed out the questions he doesn't believe have been answered.

There was no alcohol found in either toxicology report and DNA from Christina was also found on one of the cigarette butts collected as evidence.

The time of death also was never proven. Based on witness testimony, it was sometime between 11:50 p.m. on March 21 and 10 a.m. on March 22, 2013. The prosecution did not prove the victims were killed before Aaron Powell was last traced to the crime scene, Cline said.

Mollen argued during trial that Powell followed Christina and Masciarelli home from a date at the Airport Inn.

Mollen said he entered the home and killed Masciarelli by beating him with a baseball bat, and used an electrical cord to strangle and kill Christina.

Once again Mollen took his time speaking to the jury, the second time was during his closing arguments. He spent more than an hour going through all of the evidence once more, evidence that took more than six days of witness testimony to lay out in detail.

Mollen told the jury to look at all of the facts, and to put aside questions that cannot be answered. Looking at the facts, he said, "there's no other explanation on earth," Aaron Powell killed Christina and Mario Masciarelli.

Mollen got louder and more heated toward the end of his speech. He told jurors to remember "what he (Powell) did." He pulled out the murder weapons from evidence and displayed the bloodied baseball bat and electrical cord, describing the events that led to their deaths.

"There's only one verdict," Mollen said, "He should be found guilty."

Sentencing for Powell will be held at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 3 where he will face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Although Powell hasn't shown up to court during the trial, the law requires him to stand before the judge during sentencing.