Grega free to seek a job
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | December 29,2012
BRATTLEBORO — A judge has loosened the daily telephone reporting requirements for murder suspect John Grega, a move that will allow Grega to seek employment, his attorney said in court Friday.
A motion hearing Friday dealt solely with Grega’s request to cut the number of daily calls he makes to Vermont State Police to once a day, rather than twice. Judge John Wesley granted the motion, while noting that Grega’s $75,000 cash bail remained in place.
Grega’s attorney, Ian Carleton, said the increased flexibility would allow him to seek employment.
Grega is being retried for the aggravated murder of his wife Christine in a West Dover condominium. New testing earlier this year revealed previously unidentified DNA from an unknown man in her body. Grega has maintained his innocence since the 1991 murder in West Dover.
Grega, now 50, is currently a resident of Ronkonkoma, Long Island, New York, and by court order is living with his elderly mother.
Wesley said the biggest incentive for Grega not to flee was the $75,000 cash bail his family had posted to guarantee his appearance in court pending his second trial.
Grega wants to be able to seek employment, Carleton told Wesley, and he also is getting medical attention and physical therapy for recent knee surgery and a heart condition. For him to be back by 5 p.m. every day to his mother’s home is onerous, Carleton said.
Carleton said Grega had not missed calling a single day — unless excused by the court or state’s attorney — since he was released from prison Aug. 21, including the week after Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island, prompting widespread power outages. Grega was able to use a cellphone that week to make his calls, Carleton said.
Grega will have to call state police in Rockingham every day between 6 and 7 a.m.
Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said she would be willing to consider changing the reporting requirement, but after Grega got a job.
Wesley disagreed and said cash, not a telephone call, was the biggest incentive.
In addition to the court hearing, motions and counter motions continue to be filed in the case.
The state has never refused to hand over materials about police officer training and policies to the attorney for Grega, Shriver wrote in a court filing dated Friday.
Meanwhile, the town of Dover filed a motion on Wednesday to quash a subpoena issued to its police department by Grega’s attorney, saying the request for the personnel files of its police officers at the time of the 1991 murder were overly broad, “unreasonable and oppressive” and “irrelevant.”
Carleton, Grega’s attorney, is seeking “all policies, procedures, instructions, checklists, forms, memoranda or instructive material” from 1990 to the present.
Shriver’s sharply worded filing was in response to Carleton’s critically worded motion to compel last week. Carleton is a lawyer with the Burlington law firm of Sheehey, Furlong & Behm and has represented Grega for several years. He was key to getting Grega a new trial through work done by the New England Innocence Project.
Dover’s attorney, Colin McNeil of the Burlington law firm of McNeil, Leddy and Sheahan, argued that Carleton had not met the Vermont Supreme Court standard of relevancy in seeking the personnel records.
McNeil said Grega’s attorney was seeking “the production of essentially a library’s worth of materials. This request is therefore extremely broad and compliance would be overly burdensome.”
The materials sought by Carleton include information on a police chief, one sergeant, one investigator, three patrolmen, one part-time officer and a dispatcher/office manager.
The personnel files could include a wide range of information, McNeil said. “Such files may contain anything from commendations and minor rule infractions not dealing with veracity or performance to personal identifying information and medical records,” he wrote.
“These files contain privileged and confidential information,” he added.
McNeil said if the motion to quash the subpoena was denied, it should at least be altered or “more reasonable.” He added the information sought should be more defined and the judge should review confidential information in private so that its relevancy to evidence in the murder case can be assessed.
After Friday’s hearing, Grega said his Christmas — his first not spent in prison for 18 years — had been wonderful, thanks to family and friends.
“It was wonderful; it was nice to be home,” he said. “It was great to be home and great to be with my family and friends.”
Grega said he had knee surgery on his meniscus, and that he had had the surgery before.
No date has been set for Grega’s retrial, but it is expected to last a month, according to court records.