Judge sets timeline for new Grega trial
by Mike Eldred
Nov 08, 2012 | 2650 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Grega
John Grega
BRATTLEBORO- Windham Superior Court Judge John Wesley set an aggressive timetable for prosecutors and John Grega’s defense attorneys at a hearing this week, with a goal of holding a trial in six months.

In 1995, Grega was convicted of the sexual assault and murder of his wife, Christine Grega, during a stay at a friend’s condominium in Dover. Grega, now 50, was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Earlier this year, Wesley overturned Grega’s conviction and ordered his release pending a new trial, after DNA evidence was retested using techniques not available at the time of his original conviction in 1995. The tests, conducted under the state’s innocence protection act, indicated the presence of “unknown male” skin DNA from a swab taken from Christine Grega’s body.

Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said she expects Grega’s new trial to take as long as four weeks. The 1995 trial was 13 days long.

At this week’s hearing, Wesley also set a deadline of 90 days for the state to turn over information under Rule 16 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure, also known as “discovery.” Grega’s attorney Ian Carleton noted that the state had already turned over 7,700 pages of documents in the discovery process, along with hundreds of photographs, and video and audio tapes.

But Carleton suggested that there may be evidence yet to be accounted for. He said that comparison of recently received documentation of evidence in the state’s possession with documentation from Grega’s 1995. trial indicated that there is “evidence that is still out there or no longer available, for whatever reason.”

Carleton asked that the state provide a reconciliation of the evidence. Deputy state’s attorney Steve Brown said the prosecution has already disclosed all of the physical evidence in the case. “I had the state police undertake a thorough examination of what’s in their possession, collected in the 1995 trial, and inventoried it and photographed it. We can provide that to the defense, but it’s our position that we’ve complied with Rule 16, and don’t expect any further disclosures at this point.”

Brown said the state was still working to update required criminal records checks for witnesses in the case. In addition to new testimony from expert witnesses in the 1995 trial, Brown indicated that new experts would also be called to provide testimony. “Within 90 days we’ll have the lab work completed, and have the records checks to the defense,” Brown said. “We’ve also asked the Dover Police Department to inventory and copy their files. I expect much of that file has been disclosed, but we want to make sure no stone is left unturned.”

Wesley questioned Brown about Carleton’s suggestion that some of the 1995 evidence wasn’t accounted for and his request for a reconciliation. “What the defense is asking for is readily available in the file,” Brown said. “That’s work he can do by looking at what we’ve disclosed and what’s inventoried.”

Turning to Carleton, Wesley asked for clarification of the issue. “You appear to suggest there were items originally inventoried that are no longer in the state’s possession,” he said.

Carleton said his remarks were based on a “relatively quick” comparison of evidence in the 1995 trial, and a list of evidence recently provided by prosecutors. “My analysis so far is that there are items that were collected that don’t appear on (the recent list), and there are some exhibits on the list that didn’t appear at the original trial. It’s my reading of the rule that (prosecutors) have the obligation to identify items that no longer exist.”

Wesley offered no opinion or ruling on the matter during the hearing. Carleton also suggested that more time may be needed for depositions, noting that the witness list could include as many as 220 people. But Shriver said the list of people who may need to be deposed was substantially less than 220. “Anyone with involvement in the last couple of years would be deposed,” she said, “but not those whose testimony hasn’t changed.”

“We disagree,” said Carleton. “We’re here because of newly discovered evidence, very significant new evidence. We believe we should be able to depose anyone whose testimony may be affected by the new evidence, although I agree that we don’t have any intention of taking 220 depositions.”

Wesley said he expected the prosecution and defense to work together “in good faith” to keep the process on track.

In addition to Carleton, Grega’s defense also includes attorneys from Goodwin and Procter, a Boston-based law firm with more than 800 attorneys and offices around the United States, as well as London and Hong Kong. The Boston attorneys are working with the New England Innocence Project.

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