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Offline asylumseeker

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Soccer coach charged with killing 12-year-old boy
« on: May 23, 2014, 05:37:50 PM »
Soccer coach charged with killing 12-year-old boy

POTSDAM, N.Y. — Nearly three years after a 12-year-old boy’s slaying shocked this small northern New York village, a college soccer coach was charged with suffocating and strangling the child, who was his ex-girlfriend’s son, authorities said Friday.

Oral “Nick” Hillary, the men’s soccer coach at Clarkson University, was arrested Thursday at his home in Potsdam and charged with second-degree murder in Garrett Phillips’ killing, police said.

The boy was found unconscious inside his home after neighbors heard screams and cries for help on Oct. 24, 2011. He had been strangled and suffocated with a pillow, authorities said.

Hillary was being held without bail Friday in the St. Lawrence County Jail. A message left with his lawyer, Christopher Renfroe of Queens, wasn’t returned.

District Attorney Mary Rain said details of the case weren’t being disclosed, including the evidence presented to a grand jury. She said Hillary and his teenage daughter had lived with Tandy Collins, Garrett’s mother, and her two sons, but she broke off the relationship in August 2011. By the time Garrett was killed, Hillary was living elsewhere in Potsdam, Rain said.

Officials at Clarkson University, a Division III school, said Hillary is on administrative leave.

The killing shocked Potsdam, a college town of about 9,400 residents 20 miles from the Canadian border. Rain said she made the case a priority when she took office Jan. 1.

“Garrett was such an outgoing young man and he had so many friends,” Rain said. “He was just one of those kids that everybody loved.”

Hillary was a soccer star at rival St. Lawrence University in nearby Canton. According to the Clarkson athletic department’s website, Hillary was four-year starter and two-year captain at St. Lawrence, leading the Saints to a 22-0-0 record and the Division III national championship in 1999. A 2000 St. Lawrence graduate, he was an assistant coach at his alma mater before being named Clarkson’s head coach six years ago.

A native of Jamaica, Hillary coached high school and club soccer teams in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, area before moving back north. He’s is a 1993 graduate of Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, New York.

He has four other children, including 1-year-old twins, with another woman, Rain said.


Hillary Pleads Not Guilty
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 06:01:29 PM by asylumseeker »

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Re: Soccer coach charged with killing 12-year-old boy
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2014, 05:48:41 PM »
Clarkson coach questioned in Potsdam boy's murder threatens village with lawsuit
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 5:36 pm


POTSDAM – A Clarkson University soccer coach who was prominently featured in some media reports after being questioned by police in the murder of a Potsdam boy last October is warning the village he might sue them for false arrest, emotional distress and defamation.

Oral Nicholas Hillary, who has not been charged, sent a “notice of claim and notice of intention to commence an action thereon” to the village, signed and notarized Jan. 20 and received Jan. 23. It claims the village is responsible for “injuries and damages sustained by me” including false arrest, illegal detention, illegal search and seizure, emotional distress, and defamation.

Hillary was one of many people questioned in the death Oct. 24 of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips, which was ruled a homicide based in part on autopsy results performed by a forensic pathologist in Albany, according to police.

Hillary surfaced in connection with the case when the Watertown Daily Times named him in an Oct. 27 story as one of those questioned in the case, and accompanied their story with a photo of Hillary, a St. Lawrence University graduate and coach of Clarkson University’s men’s soccer team.

The newspaper article quoted Potsdam Police Chief Edward Tischler as saying, “Right now, we have no suspects or persons of interest.” The story also said that Hillary “had been dating the boy’s mother.”

A story in the Times the next day by St. Lawrence County Editor Jeffery Savitskie quoted Hillary’s attorney, ManI Tafari, also a St. Lawrence University graduate, as saying “the direction of this investigation has made him a de facto suspect.”

“Mr. Tafari said he has heard complaints from people in the community that the coverage focusing on Mr. Hillary and not police interviews with other ex-boyfriends of the boy’s mother, Tandy L. Cyrus, was because his client is black,” Savitskie wrote.

The notice of claim sent to the village offices is a declaration of the possibility of a lawsuit. It is a first step in the process, and is not the filing of an actual suit.

A notice of claim “preserves the right to go forward with a suit,” and has to be presented within 90 days of the claimed damage, according to a local attorney not associated with any of the parties. It also allows for the option of obtaining depositions to examine the case.

If a suit is to go forward, it must be filed with the appropriate court within one year and 90 days from the date of the injury or damage. This notice of claim says it stems from actions by the village police “on or about October 26, 2011, and continues to this date.” The document was logged in at the village offices on Jan. 23.

Potsdam Village Administrator David Fenton said last week that the village had made no response to the threat of a suit but had turned the matter over to their insurance carrier.

Potsdam Police Lt. Mark Murray, when asked about the status of the case, said “it continues to be an ongoing multi-agency investigation,” and would say no more.

The man who had been leading the Potsdam Police Department, Chief Edward Tischler, retired as of March 31 to pursue a career in the private sector. Former Sgt. Kevin Bates was selected as the new chief.

At the time of the murder, neighbors called police and reported hearing a loud noise and moaning coming from the apartment that afternoon. Phillips was found unconscious and alone in the apartment at 100 Market St. where he lived with his mother.

He was taken by the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, but efforts there to save him were unsuccessful.

The investigation was in full swing as hundreds of Garrett’s fellow students along with teachers and staff held a memorial at A.A. Kingston Middle School the next day to honor the life of the well-liked sixth grader.

The Potsdam Police Department has been aided in the investigation by New York State Police and their forensic laboratory, and by the office of St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duvé.

Police have made no arrests, named no suspects, nor would they name any “persons of interest.”

As police waited for reports from the crime lab, hopes in the community for an arrest in the case rose, but the results apparently didn’t provide sufficient evidence to charge anyone.

« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 05:59:49 PM by asylumseeker »

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Re: Soccer coach charged with killing 12-year-old boy
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2016, 09:17:43 PM »
Nick Hillary Found Not Guilty in Murder of 12-Year-Old Garrett Phillips
By Emily Shapiro, ABC News.

Former college soccer coach Oral "Nick" Hillary was found not guilty today in the murder of Garrett Phillips, the 12-year-old son of his ex-girlfriend.

The decision was made by Judge Felix Catena. Hillary waived his right to a jury trial and requested a bench trial.

Garrett's younger brother, Aaron Collins, burst into tears after the judge announced his decision, and Garrett's mother, Tandy Cyrus, cried softly. Hillary embraced his attorneys and left the courtroom shortly after the decision was announced.

First responders took two stretchers to the courthouse after the verdict to assist distressed family members, including Garrett's cousin Kayla Phillips, who is believed to be one of the last people who saw him alive. Kayla, who appeared distraught, was then escorted down the courthouse steps and to a waiting car.

In a press conference after the verdict, Hillary's lawyers praised the "system" for working.

"Nick knew he was innocent and had faith in the system," said attorney Norm Siegel. "This chapter ... ends on a positive note."

Speaking to ABC News shortly afterward, Hillary said he felt he was "robbed" of being able to grieve Garrett's death because he said he had to almost immediately take on a survival mindset when police seemed to focus on him as a suspect.

He added that he wished he could have been more of a comfort to Cyrus and Aaron. "I continue to pray for the family," he said.

Garrett had just begun the sixth grade when he was found unresponsive in his Potsdam home in October 2011. Cyrus had dated Hillary for about one year, and the two broke up months before Garrett's death.

Hillary was arrested several years after Garrett's death, and the case went to trial this September in Canton, New York, a town about 10 miles from Potsdam.

Hillary told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas earlier this year, before the trial began, that he's innocent.

"The one good thing to always hear [was my teenage daughter] Shanna come home and say, 'You know, Dad, you know, all my friends who know who you are, who have been to the house, who have interacted with you, they are very supportive of you.'"

Hillary said he had to sit down with his children "and let them know, 'Look, your dad has absolutely nothing to do with the death of Garrett Phillips' ... My kids look back at me and [say], 'Dad, we know that’s not who you are.'"

Hillary told Vargas that he believes the killer "is still out there."

While Hillary's criminal case has now concluded, Hillary's civil suit against Potsdam Police Department and the village of Potsdam is still ahead. After Hillary was questioned by police but before he was arrested, he filed the suit, claiming his civil rights were violated after what he calls his "false imprisonment" when police took him in for questioning two days after the murder. In the suit, which was first filed in 2012, Hillary alleges that he suffered "physical and psychological trauma" because of the way he was treated.

Hillary told "20/20" this year, "For them [the police] to have abused their power, because that’s what they did, they totally abused their power, to humiliate me and shame me. I wanted and still do to make certain that they will not do that to any other human being, regardless of the color of their skin, black or white, going forward."

In their answer to Hillary's lawsuit, police have denied all his allegations. The suit is pending and is now expected to move to trial following the completion of the criminal trial.

John Conger, 22, works at a bagel shop in Canton, down the street from the courthouse. Business has gone "through the roof" during Hillary's trial, he said.

Conger himself is familiar with the case as he grew up in a town near where some of Garrett's family is from. He said everyone there rallied behind the Phillips family after Garrett's death. "Everyone wanted to find out what happened," he said. "Everyone knew what was happening every step of the way for the last few years."

While Conger said he personally "didn't know enough to pick a side" in Hillary's guilt or innocence, he said he's "not surprised" by the verdict.

He said he thinks police and prosecutors "didn't have enough to really pin anything on anybody. It's just not much to go off of as far as evidence for who did it."

He added: "Hopefully they can find somebody. I think that would help the Phillips family out, to have some kind of closure."

The morning's verdict news quickly traveled from Canton to Potsdam. Maggie McKernan, 22, has lived in the Potsdam area her whole life.

Like Conger, she didn't have an opinion on Hillary's guilt or innocence, but she said "a lot of people from the [local] colleges really stood behind" Hillary.

He coached soccer at the local Clarkson University, and attended and played soccer at the nearby St. Lawrence University.

"I think that speaks a lot about his character," McKernan said.

But she added, "If I were him I'd probably want to move away from all of this. That stigma -- it's a small enough town -- it's definitely going to follow him around if he decides to stay here for the rest of his life."

Link for video
« Last Edit: October 02, 2016, 09:23:07 PM by asylumseeker »


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