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Michael Pilato Guilty On All Counts

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Rochester: Michael Pilato Guilty On All Counts
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A Monroe County Jury convicted a Webster teen on all counts related to the fatal fire at his Webster home in December of 2011.

During deliberations, jurors had three notes they sent to the judge. They asked for several readbacks of testimony, asked the judge to re-read Count Seven, the second-degree Attempted Murder charge of Elizabeth Pilato, and asked once again for the definition of Extreme Emotional Disturbance.

The defense started summations Wednesday morning much the same way that it opened the trial, saying this is a case about why.

James Nobles said his client, Michael Pilato, is a product of his environment, born to a crack-addicted mother and born with physical and developmental issues. He said Pilato struggled in school and turned to marijuana to cope. He also said Pilato grew up in a chaotic home with siblings who had their own psychological and health issues.

Nobles said the constant fights at home finally led Pilato to snap the day of the fire and he was acting under an Extreme Emotional Disturbance.

District Attorney Sandra Doorley disagreed calling Michael Pilato a monster who intentionally set a fire in a stairwell, eliminating his family's only escape route.

She said Pilato was a defiant child who repeatedly stole money from his family, took their car keys, and refused to go to school. She argues he was a street-smart, savvy teen who just didn't want to follow the rules.

The prosecution's expert said Michael was not acting under an extreme emotional disturbance.

"There's no doubt, no doubt in anyone's mind that the household was stressful, but just because a household is stressful did not give the defendant the legal right or the moral right to do what he did. Mr. Nobles painted the household as a living hell, but again, it was a hell when Carmen, Peter and Joshua died in that fire; temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees," Doorley said.

"He was a 15-year-old boy when this happened. He was, in my opinion, experiencing an extreme emotional disturbance, and I hope that jurors will see it the same way," said Nobles.

As to the fact that Doorley argues that it doesn't give you the right to set your house on fire and kill your family:

"That's up to the jury, and certainly, let me follow up on that. Nobody's saying that that gives you the right. All that extreme emotional disturbance does is reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter. It's not as though if extreme emotional disturbance is successful, he's going to go home today," Nobles said.

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