The man accused of shooting a New York State Trooper in the Plattsburgh area last fall was convicted by a jury of attempted murder and several other felony-level charges. Vladimir Kulakov will now face 30 years to life in prison at his sentencing. He is convicted of shooting Trooper Sean Finn after fleeing from a traffic stop. Thankfully, Trooper Finn recovered from his injuries and was able to return to work. The Press Republican newspaper of Plattsburgh published an article, which is shown below, about the verdict.
By: Andrea VanValkenburg
October 27, 2006
PLATTSBURGH — Vladimir Kulakov was found guilty Thursday on numerous charges, including attempted murder, in the shooting of Trooper Sean Finn last fall.
After deliberating for nearly seven hours, the jury returned guilty verdicts on the following charges: first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree grand larceny and third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
"I’m grateful the jury came to this decision," Finn said. "I’m relieved. Vladimir Kulakov is a man who needs to be off the streets. He’s a dangerous man."
He thanked all the law-enforcement agencies and officials who were involved in investigating, preparing and presenting the case.
The 49-year-old Russian native was convicted on all possible charges in the indictment and showed no reaction as the verdict was read.
"I was very pleased with the verdict. I think the jury did the right and just thing," said Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, who served as special prosecutor in the case because Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie had once represented Kulakov.
"Law enforcement day in and day out put their lives on the line to keep us safe," Champagne said, adding that the verdict "sends a message that (harming police) will not be tolerated in upstate New York."
After the verdict was read, defense attorney Mark McCormick said, "Obviously, I’m disappointed. I had high hopes at least the attempted-murder charges would have been found not guilty."
Kulakov had shot Finn twice on Sept. 9, 2005, hitting his head, hand and arm, after Finn and another trooper attempted to pull him over in a stolen vehicle in Plattsburgh.
Kulakov then fled, and a high-profile search ensued. Kulakov was arrested the following day in a wooded area in Pottersville.
Finn recovered from the bullet wounds to his arm and head. Though he still has some difficulty with the hand wounds, which shattered finger bones and affected his range mobility, the trooper returned to work within months of the shooting.
On Jan. 5, 2006, on his way to a court appearance, Kulakov briefly escaped from custody when he jumped from a Clinton County Sheriff’s Department vehicle.
He later pleaded guilty to escape charges and is serving time at the maximum-security Great Meadows Correctional Facility.
The jury heard testimony from numerous witnesses, including the arresting officers, Finn and evidence experts over the course of the nine-day trial.
Kulakov also took the stand, saying he thought he was being kidnapped and suggesting he was being framed.
The nine female and six male jurors were presented with DNA, fingerprint and ballistic evidence that placed Kulakov in the stolen vehicle and in close proximity to the 22-caliber weapon used to shoot the trooper at the time of his arrest.
"In general, I think they (the prosecution) did a good job presenting their case," said Melissa Brown of Schuyler Falls, one of the jurors. "We just looked at the overall picture. It took longer just to understand each charge and the definition of the law."
According to Champagne, Kulakov could be sentenced to 30 years to life for the convictions.
Vladimir Kulakov faced a 12-count indictment in the criminal trial.
The charges were: first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, two counts of first-degree assault, first-degree criminal use of a firearm, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Kulakov pleaded guilty on April 24 to escape, stemming from an incident on Jan. 5 when he jumped from a Sheriff’s Department vehicle while being held on the current charges. He is now serving a 21„2-to-5-year prison sentence for the escape.