Jury selection to start in triple-murder case

Posted
Saturday February 25, 2012

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. -- The triple-murder trial against Matthew Slocum is slated to begin Monday morning in Fort Edward with jury selection.

Slocum, 24, is accused in the shooting deaths of his mother, father-in-law, and step-brother at their White Creek residence in the early morning hours of July 13, 2011. He faces 11 counts in total, including three murder charges and felony arson.

A witness list submitted by Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright includes 22 individuals to be called to the stand, including an expert witness who literally wrote the handbook for law enforcement on bloodstain pattern forensics.

Court documents on file at the Washington County Courthouse reveal the defendant's lengthy past criminal history, and earlier threats of violence allegedly made up to and including the day before the murders. Slocum allegedly threatened his mother, Lisa Harrington, on July 12 after she came to the defense of his girlfriend, Loretta Colegrove, during an argument.

Harrington, 44, her husband Dan Harrington, 41, and his son Joshua O'Brien, 24, were found the next day shot to death in the charred remains of their residence, located in the hamlet of Eagle Bridge.

Pre-trial depositions from family members and acquaintances cite past statements made by Slocum, in which he allegedly threatened to "burn down the house and flee to Mexico." Court records show Slocum had one prior felony conviction and some 45 misdemeanor convictions, including sexual misconduct, aggravated harassment, possession of stolen property, burglary, and larceny.

Public Defender Michael Mercure, who is representing Slocum, has said his client is innocent and that he will pursue a not guilty verdict during trial. Last December, Mercure withdrew a previous motion indicating he would pursue a defense of "extreme emotional distress," which, if successful, would have absolved Slocum of criminal responsibility "due to reason of mental disease or defect."

During a January hearing, Slocum took the stand to deny any prior admission of guilt, as police allege he made while in custody.

Depositions on file from New Hampshire and New York state police, as well as Washington County social workers, attest to incriminating statements made by Slocum in the days after he was taken into custody, including that he "shotgunned" his mother and told the order in which he shot his victims.

Presiding Judge Kelly McKeighan ruled in February that those statements would be admissible in court, after Mercure unsuccessfully argued that they be suppressed on grounds that Slocum had invoked his right to a lawyer.

Police have not charged Colegrove in connection with the case.

Both Slocum and Colegrove are listed on the trial witness list and could take the stand to testify, in addition to family, acquaintances, and law enforcement. The prosecution will call Thomas Martin, an expert on bloodstain patterns and retired career crime scene investigator who now trains law enforcement in crime scene forensics. Martin is author of "Crime Scene Forensics Handbook -- Bloodstain Pattern Edition."

Court documents say Martin will testify to blood evidence found inside a Ford Edge at the crime scene, on Slocum's shoes and shorts, on Colegrove's shirt, and on the baby blanket of the couple's then-4-month-old son, Raymond.

The defense plans to call an employee of a Keene, N.H., pawn shop, meanwhile, who in a written deposition stated that Colegrove and Slocum appeared "lovey dovey" at the pawn shop where they sold coins and jewelry later in the evening of July 13.

Videotape of pre-trial testimony taken in January from Patricia McGarvin, the grandmother of one of the victims, will likely be submitted into evidence. McGarvin, now deceased, was allowed to testify early regarding a cellphone she gave to O'Brien. She had advanced stage cancer at the time she testified.

Slocum faces life imprisonment if convicted of the most serious Class A-1 felony murder charges.

Contact Zeke Wright at ewright@benningtonbanner.com or @Zeke_Wright on Twitter.


TALK TO US

If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.



Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions