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Essex Co. worker allegedly murders DA’s brother in bar fight

April 23, 2018
By PETER CROWLEY - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

Essex County's government is deeply embroiled in an alleged murder that took place Sunday night. The accused killer works for the county Department of Public Works, and the victim is the county district attorney's brother.

State police charged Cody Cutting, 30, of Moriah, with second-degree murder, saying he shot and killed Derek "Boomer" Sprague, 44, of Witherbee, Sunday night in the parking lot of the Eagles' Aerie bar, home of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles No. 4410 on Center Road in Moriah Center.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that the victim and the suspect were in an altercation, which began in the bar and continued into the parking lot, where Cutting retrieved a handgun and shot Sprague," state police wrote in a press release Monday morning.

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Cody Cutting, 30, of Moriah (Photo provided — New York State Police)

Derek Sprague's sister is DA Kristy Sprague. A staff member at the DA's office said the case has been referred to the Warren County DA's office as a special prosecutor.

Cody Cutting is not related to Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting, Undersheriff Michael Badger said Monday; Cody and Richard are from different Cutting families, Badger said. The sheriff's office has been involved with state police in investigating the case.

But Cody Cutting does have county government ties in that he is employed by the DPW as a truck driver, county Manager Dan Palmer confirmed Monday. Cutting has worked for the county for the last two or three years, Palmer said.

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County staff were somewhat touchy about the matter Monday. DPW staff referred this reporter to the county attorney's office, which passed the reporter on to the personnel department, who passed the buck to the county manager. Palmer said he had discussed the matter with county attorney Daniel Manning III Monday morning and said Cody Cutting's job status is "kind of in limbo."

Civil service laws and the CSEA union contract are factors in how county administrators handle Cutting's employment, Palmer said. For a worker of Cutting's class, employed less than five years, Palmer said the county could potentially seek to terminate him at some point if he is unable to do the job.

"If he can't get out of jail and show up to work, that becomes a problem," Palmer said.

Palmer wasn't able to provide a timeline on when that might happen.

"We've never had this kind of situation occur, so we would be cautious about the process to make sure this individual has his rights protected and to not get in the middle of the criminal procedure," Palmer said.

Cody Cutting is in the Essex County Jail without bail after being arraigned in the Moriah town court before Justice Brian Venne.

Essex County Corner Frank Whitelaw responded to the scene of the killing and authorized Sprague's body to be transported to Albany Medical Center for an autopsy, which he said was being performed Monday afternoon by Dr. Michael Sikirica.

State police said their investigation is ongoing and asked anyone with information on it to call them at 518-873-2750.



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