BRATTLEBORO — Additional DNA testing will be conducted on old evidence in the John Grega first-degree murder case, Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said Friday.
Shriver said that technicians now believe there was enough DNA material left from earlier tests — which last year led to a new murder trial for Grega — for another set of tests.
Both sides in the 19-year-old murder case were in court Friday to argue several contentious motions filed in the case. And both sides came in for some scolding by Superior Court Judge John Wesley, who urged the prosecution and defense to work together cooperatively as the pretrial issues emerge and are resolved.
Grega, 50, is charged with the first-degree murder of his wife, Christine, who was found strangled and brutally sexually assaulted in a rented condominium in West Dover on Sept. 12, 1994.
Police arrested Grega shortly afterward, saying he gave conflicting statements about what happened to his wife, at one point attributing her internal injuries to rough sex.
Shriver said the additional DNA tests would include additional tests on the various swabs taken from Christine Grega’s body, including the swab that showed the mystery DNA. Tests would also be done on material taken from the washing machine, where Christine Grega’s bloodstained clothing was found. Shriver said that swabs taken of what appeared to be bloodstains on the wall of the condominium they were renting would also be included.
Shriver said the new round of DNA testing would likely push back the second trial, which is expected to take a month. No date had been set for the new trial, but Wesley said he wanted to conclude pretrial work by July.
The Gregas, along with their 2-year-old son, had been vacationing in the Mount Snow area in September 1994 in hopes of putting their marriage back on track, according to testimony during the first trial.
Grega has always maintained his innocence, and DNA testing last May, which wasn’t available during his first trial, revealed the DNA of another, unknown man in Christine Grega’s body.
The DNA testing was possible because of a 2008 Vermont law which allowed convicted felons to request DNA testing that wasn’t available at the time of their trials.
The New England Innocence Project worked with Grega’s attorney Ian Carleton, of Burlington, on the case. Grega had been serving a sentence of life without parole.
Two of Grega’s attorneys took turns attacking Shriver and her office for lack of cooperation in the case, whether it was winnowing down their potential witness list or turning over the confidential files of police officers who worked on the case back in 1994.
Grega, 50, of Long Island, N.Y., was convicted during a 1995 trial in Brattleboro, but he was released on bail last August after both sides agreed that a new trial was warranted. Since then Grega has lived in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., with his elderly mother.
In addition to discussion of the new DNA testing, and the protocols that would be involved during the tests at an out-of-state lab, the two sides wrangled over whether Shriver’s office should turn over the confidential employment records of Dover police officers and Vermont State Police detectives who worked on the case.
Shriver has refused to agree to turn over the documents, saying she didn’t have legal access to the files, and that she was only required to turn over critical information about police officers if she knew about it, and said it wasn’t her responsibility to search it out.
Shriver said she had turned over information about a state lab fingerprint technician, Jon Creighton, that was critical of his credibility.
Carleton is being aided by some attorneys from the Boston law firm of Goodwin Procter, who are working in conjunction with the New England Innocence Project. He said Shriver and her office should be sanctioned by Wesley for their lack of cooperation.
Wesley appeared skeptical of Carleton’s many complaints, noting that Shriver didn’t have control over the confidential files of the police officers and that Carleton himself was free to subpoena them.
Opposing turning over any personnel files were attorneys representing both the Dover Police Department and the Vermont State Police.
Both attorneys said Grega’s attorneys had to show some proof or information that showed any connection with the Grega case and any potential disciplinary action or missteps by police.
Annika Green, the attorney for the Department of Public Safety, said Carleton and co-counsel Brian LaMacchia were on a “fishing expedition” in their effort to go through personnel files.
LaMacchia replied it was more like “Catch-22” since Grega’s attorneys didn’t know what to look for.
Carleton also criticized the size of the potential witness list submitted by Shriver’s office and asked for the judge to order them to narrow it down, and at least give addresses for the witnesses.
Carleton said the prosecutors had included at least one person who was dead on the list and another person who was “senile.” There are about 250 people on the list.
Shriver also objected to Carleton’s plans to re-depose 14 key witnesses in the case, including the police investigators, emergency medical technicians, and medical examiners.
Shriver said the people were deposed in preparation for the 1995 trial, testified, and were cross-examined by Grega’s attorneys at that time. She said any re-interview in preparation for the trial should be closely limited and added she was seeking a protective order from Wesley.
Wesley took all the legal issues under advisement and told the two sides he hoped to have a decision on the various issues by next week.
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