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The St. Lawrence County courthouse and legislative building.
The St. Lawrence County courthouse and legislative building.

Bail hearing continues in Garrett Phillips murder case

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Yesterday afternoon, the bail hearing for Oral "Nick" Hillary continued in St Lawrence County court. Hillary is charged with the 2011 murder of Garrett Phillips, a 12-year-old boy from Potsdam. Hillary has been held at the St Lawrence County jail for more than two months, since his original arraignment hearing.

But at the end of yesterday's proceedings which went for more than three hours,, Judge Jerome Richards did not announce his decision on whether to release Hillary, and telling the court that he needed more time to look things over and that he would be mailing his decision.

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Reported by

Natasha Haverty
Reporter and Producer

Monday’s courtroom was full of tension—on the left side of the room, sitting behind the prosecution were relatives and friends of Garrett Phillips. And on the right half, friends and family of Oral Hillary, including his twin baby sons who stayed asleep in their stroller most of the time. Nick Hillary wore a blue collared shirt and sat with his two attorneys.

The issue here is whether Hillary can be released on bail. Back in May, Judge Jerome Richards set bail at $75,000 cash over $150,000 bond. But Rain’s team asked for time to dispute that. And yesterday two people came in for questioning—an agent from Empire Bail Bonds, the company Hillary’s family used to post bond the day after his arraignment, a company which has been used in Judge Richards’ court before, and a property appraiser that Rain and her team hired to take another look at the value of the family’s posted property, which is in Brooklyn.

In his closing statements, defense attorney Patrick Foster told the court that the evidence presented “should speak for itself.”

David Haggard, the Chief Assistant to the District Attorney, told the court, “I can’t imagine anyone being a more significant flight risk.” He argued that Hillary could flee to Jamaica, where he was born, and that Hillary has no ties to the community other than his fiancée and children who he lives with in Potsdam. Haggard also said in his closing statements that if Hillary is released, his passport should be taken away.

Members of the Phillips family cried as Haggard spoke, as one of Hillary’s sisters bowed her head and prayed, before the judge announced that he would mail his decision. District Attorney Mary Rain said afterwards that the move to mail the decision was unprecedented. It’s unclear when the decision will become public.

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