Grega’s attorney to lawyers: Save your documents, emails and iPhone
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | August 24,2013
BRATTLEBORO — The attorney for John Grega sent a letter Friday to attorneys involved in the now-dismissed aggravated murder case asking them not to throw away any paper or electronic documents having to do with the case, a standard legal prelude to a lawsuit.
“In light of recent events in the matter of State v. Grega, it is now reasonable to anticipate possible state and/or federal litigation against the State of Vermont, governmental sub-entities, and/or current or former government officials,” wrote attorney Ian Carleton..
Carleton said the “litigation hold notice” seeks to preserve all relevant documents, whether they be email messages, instant messages or correspondence, or “handwritten notes, reports, graphs, tables publications, books and pamphlets.”
The warning also covered “Blackberries, Droids, iPhones and even digital audio and video players, such as iPods,” his letter added.
The Vermont Innocence Protection Act, which was adopted in 2007, allows Grega, if ruled exonerated of his wife’s murder, to receive significant money — more than $1 million — from the state, as well as free medical care for 10 years, and lost wages and other costs, including legal fees.
Carleton has represented Grega in several post-conviction relief issues, ultimately winning him a new trial, and then this week dismissal of the refiled aggravated murder charges. He described the letter as a “standard” letter and said no decision had been made to sue the state.
The letter was sent to several assistant Vermont attorneys general, Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver, Windham County Deputy State’s Attorney Steven Brown, former Windham County State’s Attorney Dan Davis, and Rosemary Gretkowski, the attorney for the Department of Public Safety.
Shriver and Davis both declined to comment about the letter. Assistant Attorney General Cindy Maguire, who is chief of the criminal division, didn’t return messages seeking comment.
The three-page letter also reminded the attorneys to contact their insurance companies, “to the extent that any potential defendants maintain insurance pertinent to these potential claims, we recommend you notify the relevant carrier(s).”
On Wednesday, Shriver and Maguire announced they were dismissing aggravated murder charge against Grega in the 1994 death of his wife Christine Grega.
John Grega, now 51, served 18 years in prison after being convicted in 1995 of her murder, but last year, after new DNA testing made possible under a 2007 law, the Innocence Protection Act, he was granted a new trial. The DNA testing revealed the presence of another man’s DNA from fingertip cells from rape kit swabs. John Grega’s DNA was also present.
But new testing on old DNA evidence in the case couldn’t be completed by a court deadline of Friday, Aug. 23, Shriver said, resulting in the dismissal. However, Shriver reserved the right to refile the charges once the DNA testing problem is resolved.
Carleton plans on fighting that provision, saying the dismissal of the aggravated murder charges should be permanent.
John Treadwell, an assistant attorney general who has been involved in the five Vermont inmate cases that have been brought under the 2007 Innocence Protection Act, said the Grega case was the only one that had resulted in a new trial after new DNA testing.
He said one case, involving convicted murderer Edwin Towne, was currently pending before the Vermont Supreme Court.
Towne, who was convicted of the 1986 murder of 15-year-old Paulette Crickmore in Richmond, wants hairs recovered from the body bag that held Crickmore’s body tested. A lower court ruled that the hairs were not key pieces of evidence in the murder.
Crickmore died of three gunshots to the head, and the gun was found in Towne’s home.
In another case, despite filing the petition seeking DNA testing, one inmate refused to give a DNA sample himself, which was needed for comparison testing, and that case was dismissed, Treadwell said.
One petition was dismissed because the evidence in the case had been destroyed, and in the fourth case, the inmate’s request that a third person be tested was rejected since it was not authorized under the law.