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Hudson Valley

Jurors return guilty verdict in Novak murder trial

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Albany/HV: Jurors return guilty verdict in Novak murder trial
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After dozens of witnesses over the course of seven weeks, jurors in Sullivan County found Paul Novak guilty of murdering his wife. YNN's Eva McKend has been following the trial for us from the very beginning and has all the details.

MONTICELLO, N.Y. -- One year ago, the Sullivan County District Attorney said Scott Sherwood and Paul Novak were arrested.

On Friday, a jury found Paul Novak guilty of murdering his wife Catherine in 2008 and setting their Narrowsburg home on fire to cover up the crime.

Novak had few words when he left the courtroom, only uttering "not very good" when asked how he felt about the verdict. He was found guilty on all eight counts, including murder, arson, and insurance fraud.

Catherine Novak's family said they have always maintained faith in the judicial process, and have remained focused on Novak's two young children.

"We've got to go home and just try to live with her memories and keep contact with the children," said Christina Daws, Catherine's mother.

"We'll work with Paul's family to see how we can best support them because this has got to be a horrific thing for them," added Catherine's brother, Michael Lane.

This was a historic trial in Sullivan County for many reasons, including one of the longest trials in recent history.

"The seven full weeks of jury testimony probably matches many state records," said Sullivan County Judge Frank LaBuda.

Off camera, jurors said it was not an easy decision. Although autopsy reports revealed Catherine died before the fire, there wasn't a lot of other forensic and DNA evidence.

Jurors said they relied heavily on the testimonies of Michelle LaFrance, Scott Sherwood and Elise Hanlon who all say Novak murdered his wife.

"It's the little pieces. It's the little things that you put together that build a mountain of evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty," said James Farell, Sullivan County's District Attorney.

Michelle LaFrance, Novak's ex-girlfriend, was not charged. She came forward last year and told state police Novak and Sherwood drove to Narrowsburg almost five years ago to commit the crime. According to the district attorney, without LaFrance, there wouldn't have been a trial. He stands by his decision to grant her immunity.

"It took an act of conscience by her to come forward to unravel this premeditated plan to kill Catherine Novak," Farrell added.

Novak's attorney says justice wasn't realized and his client has a good chance on appeal.

"Justice delayed doesn't mean justice denied. It's going to appeal and we will see where it takes us from there," said defense attorney Gary Greenwald.

The mood in Sullivan County after the verdict wasn't gleeful, but there was a sense of relief as many people have been following the trial closely for the past seven weeks. Many were glad to see it come to a close.

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