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The Times
  • Carpenter: Utica teacher died of self-inflicted gunshot wound

  • Though officials are continuing their investigation into the death of a Utica woman shot in Old Forge over the summer, they did say on Tuesday Catherine Koestner died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Herkimer County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter said the investigation has stalled due to the witness’ refusal to cooperate any further with authorities.

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  • Though officials are continuing their investigation into the death of a Utica woman shot in Old Forge over the summer, they did say on Tuesday Catherine Koestner died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
    Herkimer County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter said the investigation has stalled due to the witness’ refusal to cooperate any further with authorities.
    “As a result, thereof, law enforcement will not be able to obtain answers to certain outstanding questions that we have not only from the perspective of this investigation, but, also, those questions that remain from the family and community at large,” he said in a prepared statement to the media.
    Joseph Moore, 50, of Clinton, was with Koestner in the early morning hours of Aug. 25 when she suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of her head in Room 50 at the Forge Motel. She was later pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica.
    Moore has been characterized as a witness by authorities, and originally cooperated in the investigation. He has since, however, obtained counsel who has indicated he will no longer do so.
    “It was not a homicide, but there are a few things that don’t add up,” said state police Capt. Mark Lincoln, of Troop D.
    Among some of the lingering questions authorities have were whether the shooting was accidental or intentional and why Koestner’s belongings were found scattered outside of the hotel.
    Carpenter would not comment on several parts of the investigation, including what lead to the heated discussion or argument between Koestner and Moore shortly before the shooting, whose fingerprints were found on the gun, if gun residue was found on either Koestner or Moore, and how the gun got into Koestner’s hands. The gun used in the shooting was legally registered to Moore.
    Despite some of these unanswered questions, authorities feel they have been able to conclude Koestner shot herself.
    Carpenter said Moore provided authorities with a written statement at the beginning of the investigation. He also said much of the information provided by Moore was corroborated with other witnesses and other evidence. Carpenter also said while Koestner was predominantly left-handed, she still had the dexterity to use her right hand to pull the trigger.
    Koestner, 30, was a math teacher at Proctor Senior High School in Utica. Carpenter said Koestner and Moore — whose relationship was described as at least friends by Carpenter, but as boyfriend - girlfriend in other media reports — had been out together earlier in the evening and had gone back to their hotel room. Carpenter suggested Koestner was at least legally intoxicated at the time of the shooting.
    Dr. Michael Sikirica, who performed the autopsy on Aug. 27, ruled the cause of death to be “severe skull fractures and brain injuries due to gunshot wound to the head.” Carpenter said Koestner’s death certificate currently states “pending further investigation,” but will be updated to “undetermined.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Carpenter thanked state police, including members of the Violent Crime Investigation Team, the Forensic Investigation Unit, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the town of Webb Police Department and the Old Forge Fire Department and Ambulance Services and members of the district attorney’s staff for their participation into the investigation.
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