The trial for Matthew Slocum isn't set to begin until the end of February, but the first witness has already been called to the stand. Our Matt Hunter explains why witness testimony was given a head start.
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CAMBRIDGE, NY – Matthew Slocum, 24, appeared in Cambridge Village Court Tuesday.
Prosecutors say on early July 13th, he entered the White Creek home of his mother, Lisa Harrington, step-father, Dan Harrington and step-brother, Joshua O'Brien, shot and killed all three before burning the house to the ground and fleeing to New Hampshire, along with his girlfriend and infant son, in his mother's stolen car.
According to court papers, Slocum initially admits to the crimes to State Police investigators. His attorney, Washington County Public Defender Michael Mercure, is attempting to get those statements suppressed in the upcoming trial.
"I've argued all along that any statements he's made were illegally obtained and I maintain that," Mercure said.
Tuesday's appearance marked the beginning of witness testimony, despite the fact the trial isn't set to begin for another four weeks.
Prosecutors called O'Brien's grandmother, Patricia McGorvin, to the stand early due to growing concerns about her health and ability to testify once the trial starts.
"If the witness would be available at trial and capable of testifying, then her testimony would be at trial,” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said. “If not, this would be used."
During her testimony, McGorvin admitted to purchasing a cell phone for her grandson on July 12th, just one day before he, his father and step-mother were killed.
Kortright did not mention inside the courtroom, nor would he comment later, whether he believes if at some point that cell phone wound up in the hands of Matthew Slocum.
"That will come out through the trial,” Kortright said.
When asked if the phone ever ended up in Slocum’s possession, Mercure responded: “No, not to my knowledge."
Mercure initially filed paperwork to use the extreme emotional disturbance defense, but has since withdrawn those papers. He maintains that Loretta Colegrove, Slocum's girlfriend, is responsible for the murders.
“We believe there was a conflicted family dynamic that was present before the murders, as far as a lot of fighting in the home regarding Loretta,” Mercure said. “That's our understanding and I don't want to get into any further at this time."
Jury selection is set to begin February 27th.