I can’t recall if we’ve discussed in detail the Nick Hillary case in upstate New York but I have the Sepember 6, 2016 trial date noted on the KOC calendar. The New York Times wrote a great article last March that I recommend if you’re interested in this story.
Nick Hillary is scheduled for trial on second degree murder charges on September 6, a crime he says he did not do. Last month, the judge held a hearing about DNA evidence the State wants to use against Hillary. Yesterday, that judge ruled against the State. The ruling bars the prosecution from using what is the only forensic evidence tying Hillary to the murder. It is unknown how this will affect the trial, and if the State has enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Hillary.
On October 24, 2011, around 5:00 p.m., 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was found strangled to death in the Potsdam, New York apartment he shared with his mother, Tandy Cyrus. The case was unsolved for more than two years though police focused on Nick Hillary from the beginning. Hillary had once dated Cyrus. But why would Hillary, a popular college soccer coach, kill the boy? Moreover, there was no forensic evidence tying him to the crime—no fingerprints, hair, etc. until investigators found a mixture of DNA under Garrett’s fingernails. The mixture revealed that Garrett was the major contributor; authorities believed Hillary was the other. However, that DNA evidence has now been barred as unreliable.
Prosecutors now believe that Hillary killed Garrett to get back at his mother for breaking up with him. Hillary says he was elsewhere at the time of the murder but police believe a car seen near Garrett as he headed home belonged to Hillary.
Hillary supporters criticize investigators for ruling out too quickly another possible suspect—a local sheriff’s deputy, John Jones. Cyrus ended a lengthy relationship with Jones when he became violent with her in August 2010. Soon after, she began to date Hillary which apparently didn’t sit well with Jones. Eventually Hillary moved in with Cyrus.
Cyrus later told police that Garrett didn’t like Hillary though Hillary says theirs was not a hostile relationship.
After the murder, Deputy Jones reportedly followed the investigation closely and even accompanied Cyrus when interviewed by the police.
In May 2014, a grand jury indicted Nick Hillary for second degree murder but a judge dismissed the indictment for prosecutorial error. A second indictment was returned in January 2015.
Hillary’s prosecution has divided a small community that, like Cyrus and her son Garrett, is 94% white; Hillary is black. Social media and the internet have weighed in with supporters on each side: Justice for Garrett Twitter and Facebook posts and, for Hillary, the website Truth for Nick Hillary.
The New York Times article linked above includes a timeline of the events and a discussion of the District Attorney, Mary Rain, who ran on a campaign promise to prosecute the case.