Attorney: Is evidence missing?
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | November 07,2012
Len Emery photo
Prosecutor Steve Brown, left and seated, and Ian Carleton, attorney for accused murderer John Grega, standing, spar over rules of evidence as Judge John P. Wesley moderates from the bench. Grega is seated to the right of Carleton.
BRATTLEBORO — The attorney for accused murderer John Grega raised the possibility Tuesday that some of the physical evidence in the 1994 case was missing or lost.
Ian Carleton, the attorney for the Long Island man, told Judge John Wesley that state prosecutors had not identified missing evidence in the murder case, which Carleton asserted was the duty of Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver.
Carleton, who after a brief hiatus has resumed representing Grega in the first-degree murder case, said after the court hearing in Brattleboro criminal court that he wasn’t sure that physical and “tangible” evidence in the case was missing, but that it was hard to tell since Shriver’s office hadn’t compiled a list of any possible missing evidence.
Carleton maintained it was the state’s responsibility to make that comparison.
But Shriver told Wesley her office had given Carleton the current list of evidence, and it was up to Carleton to compare the current list with the 1994 list.
John Grega was convicted by a Windham County jury, and his murder conviction was upheld by the Vermont Supreme Court.
But under a new Vermont law that allowed DNA analysis in old cases — the so called Innocence Project — evidence in the first trial was analyzed last year for DNA, and a man’s DNA — not her husband’s — was found in Christine Grega’s body.
That mystery DNA has not been linked to anyone, and according to statements in court Tuesday, additional DNA analysis is still being done. Neither Shriver nor Carleton would say what was being tested.
Grega’s murder conviction was set aside in August by Wesley after the new evidence was uncovered by new DNA testing. At the time of the original 1995 trial, DNA analysis was not used.
Grega, now 50, was convicted of murdering his wife Christine, as well as sexually assaulting her, when the couple stayed at a Mount Snow area condominium, along with their young son, during a holiday visit on Sept. 12, 1994.
Grega, who had been in jail close to 18 years before he was released in August, has always maintained his innocence. During his first trial, his attorneys tried to blame Christine Grega’s murder on two house painters. The two men’s DNA did not match the mystery DNA either.
Carleton will now be assisted in the Grega case by two attorneys from the Boston law firm of Goodwin Procter, who are assisting on behalf of the New England Innocence Project, Carleton said.
Carleton told Wesley he was familiarizing himself with the voluminous Grega case file. Shriver’s office has handed over the digital equivalent of 8,500 pages of documents, hundreds of photographs, video and audio tapes and the physical evidence in the case. More than 220 people are listed as potential witnesses in the case.
Steve Brown, Windham County deputy state’s attorney, who is assisting Shriver in the case, said he had instructed the Vermont State Police to retrieve their Grega file.
Wesley, who established a timetable for the swap of evidence, motions and depositions in the case, gave both sides six months to prepare to re-try Grega and he said he would start scheduling the murder trial after that.
Shriver told the judge she expected the second trial to take even more time with new expert witnesses, expected to testify about the disputed DNA evidence. Shriver said she anticipated that at least four weeks would be needed for the trial.
Carleton noted that the first trial took 13 days.
Carleton wouldn’t say what paved the way for him to continue to represent Grega. At a hearing in September, Carleton said he couldn’t continue to represent Grega unless the state appointed him as Grega’s attorney.
But Wesley and Defender General Matt Valerio said the court system already had experienced trial attorneys on retainer, and Barre attorney Kerry DeWolfe was appointed instead to represent Grega.
But according to filings in court, Carleton was again representing Grega, and he declined to say what the financial arrangements were. Court records also indicated that Marion Grega, John Grega’s mother, had recently received the $75,000 in cash she had posted for her son’s bail, with a bail bondsman posting the required $75,000 bail.