Slocum Guilty on All Counts in Re-trial of Family's 2011 Murder
More than five years after jurors held him responsible for killing three members of his own family, Matthew Slocum's second murder trial is underway in Washington County. This blog will provide updates throughout the course of the trial. For real-time updates, follow Matt Hunter on Twitter.
June 20 -- 12: p.m.
A jury has returned guilty verdicts on all counts Matthew Slocum faced in the re-trial of a 2011 murder of three of his family members.
Here's a breakdown of the charges:
1) Murder in the Second Degree - Guilty
2) Murder in the Second Degree - Guilty
3) Murder in the Second Degree - Guilty
4) Arson in Third Degree - Guilty
5) Tampering With Physical Evidence - Guilty
6) Petit Larceny - Guilty
7) Criminal Possession of a Weapon - Guilty
June 19 -- 6:34 p.m.
Jurors are now deliberating in Matthew Slocum's murder trial.
They got the case Monday after attorneys presented closing arguments. They ended the day without reaching a verdict.
During closing arguments, the Defense attorney once again told the jury that they believe Slocum's ex-girlfriend, Loretta Colegrove, is responsible for the deaths- not Slocum.
Prosecutors placed the focus on letters Slocum wrote to Colegrove from prison, during which he repeatedly apologized to her.
Deliberations will resume Tuesday morning.
June 19 -- 4:47 p.m.
After more than 30 witnesses took the stand last week, closing arguments were delivered this morning in Matthew Slocum's murder re-trial.
Matthew Slocum's lawyers are hoping for a different result from his first trial in 2012, after which a jury found him guilty of murdering his mother, step-father and step-brother.
This morning lawyers on both sides offered their closing arguments.
Speaking first, Slocum's defense attorney urged jurors to "follow the forensics."
Claiming his client is innocent, Mercure said Slocum's then-girlfriend, Loretta Colegrove "had the motive, had the opportunity and had the ability" to kill Lisa and Dan Harrington and Dan's son, Joshua O'Brien.
Among other factors, he pointed to stains of Lisa Harrington's blood on Loretta's tank-top, that an expert witness identified as a "spatter," saying they were caused by a "spatter causing event," potentially a shotgun blast.
Addressing jurors last, prosecutors said the forensics in this case is inconclusive; it leads investigators to unanswered questions because Matthew Slocum allegedly burned the family's home to the ground with the family inside.
He the blood stains on Loretta's clothing were minimal and unlikely to be caused by a shotgun blast.
Relying on letters Slocum wrote to Colegrove from prison, during which he repeatedly apologized to his ex-girlfriend, prosecutors portrayed Slocum as controlling and possessive, attempting to convince the jury he carried out the crime in "cold blood."
“If you connect the dots it leads you to the murderer. The murderer is Loretta Colegrove,” Mercure said.
"By his words, by his actions, he's telling you he did this, hold him responsible, he does not get to be the person who gets to decide what questions get answered and what questions don't. Find him guilty,” said Galarneau.
During his first trial, it took jurors less than two hours to find him guilty on all seven charges, including the three counts of second-degree murder.
June 19 -- 6:20 a.m.
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Monday morning in Washington County Court. Witness testimony wrapped up on Friday.
June 16 -- 4:00 p.m.
Unlike in his first trial, Matthew Slocum did not take the stand in his own defense.
His defense amounted to two witnesses, including the ex-boyfriend of Loretta Colegrove, who testified that they used to do drugs together and used to use guns in target shooting. Slocum's defense is trying to pin the murders on Colegrove.
The defense rested Friday afternoon and closing arguments are expected Monday morning.
June 16 -- 1:34 p.m.
In Washington County: it is all but certain that today will be the last day of witness testimony, in the murder trial of Matthew Slocum.
This morning's testimony began with a former blood-spatter expert who analyzed evidence in Slocum's triple homicide case.
In addition to testifying about blood stains found on a 12-gauge shotgun, the alleged murder weapon, he was questioned by defense attorneys at length about blood spatter found on Loretta Colegrove's tank top.
The witness, Thomas Martin, said the stains indicate the shirt had to be close enough to a "blood spatter causing event" but could not say what caused the spatter.
Saying there were, "infinite possibilities," he told jurors it could have been anything ranging from a gunshot to a person washing their hands.
Slocum's attorneys claim Colegrove, the defendant's former girlfriend, is the true killer of Dan and Lisa Harrington and Josh O'Brien.
Dan Harrington's brother, John, also testified about Dan's extensive gun collection, sharing stories about a good number of the 21 weapons displayed in court, a few of which belonged to Josh.
One of the firearms, a 12-gauge shotgun that Dan kept in his bedroom separate from the others, was called "Rusty Trusty."
Polyanna Harrington, the mother of Joshua O'Brien was the next witness to take the stand.
She testified about a text-message exchange she had with her son the night before she was killed.
After her brief testimony concluded, the prosecution rested its case.
Slocum's defense team is now calling witnesses.
June 15 -- 5:21 p.m.
Today marks the fourth day of witness testimony in Matthew Slocum's retrial. Two members of law enforcement have testified in the re-trial this morning.
A retired New York State Police sergeant who examined guns and bullet casings retrieved from the crime scene near the remains of Lisa and Dan Harrington and Dan's son, Josh O'Brien, told jurors the fragments came from a 12-gauge shotgun.
Due to the damage sustained in the fire Slocum allegedly set, the former trooper said he could not identify the exact gun the bullets were fired from.
A transcript of the testimony of a witness in Slocum's first trial was then read to jurors. That witness, a former state police forensic investigator, no longer lives in New York state, but analyzed Matthew Slocum's and Loretta Colegrove's clothing and other belongings after Slocum's arrest.
While she said many of the items belonging to both did test positive for the presence of blood, that witness was not the person who performed the following DNA analysis, so jurors have not yet heard whose blood it was.
Matthew's brother, Daniel Slocum, Jr., read a brief letter Matthew sent him after his arrest.
In part, the letter read: "Please try to find it in your heart to one day forgive me. I love you, I'm sorry."
June 14 -- 5:05 p.m.
Afternoon testimony in the Matthew Slocum re-trial brought a corrections officer and a former inmate to the stand. Both of them testified that Slocum bragged about being a murderer and having killed his family.
Today a former Washington County Jail inmate testified defendant Matthew Slocum once admitted to him he killed members of his own family. pic.twitter.com/UuHvnKVU5S— Matt Hunter (@MattHunterTV) June 14, 2017
June 14 -- 2:25 p.m.
Testimony in the Matthew Slocum retrial continues today, including cross examination of his former girlfriend.
When asked why she didn't offer help to officials, Loretta Colegrove stated she was quote "scared, terrified, and in shock."
Colgerove also touched on her time while on the run, saying Slocum told her they were doing it for her and their child.
During opening statements, the defense argued it was Colegrove and not Slocum who killed his three family members back in 2011.
A sergeant from the New Hampshire State Police also took the stand today.
June 13 -- 5:27 p.m.
Loretta Colegrove, the prosecution's star witness, took the stand Tuesday in the re-trial of Matthew Slocum.
Colegrove was Slocum's girlfriend and in the summer of 2011, the new mother of his young son. She's the only person prosecutors say witnessed parts of the crime, and is also the person Slocum's defense lawyers claim is truly responsible for the gruesome murders.
Colegrove took the stand following the testimony of forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica, who performed the autopsies of Lisa and Dan Harrington and Josh O'Brien and said all three died from gunshot wounds to the head.
Colegrove says around 2:30 a.m. on July 13, she woke up to go to the bathroom and saw Slocum standing with a shotgun in his hands, aiming it at Josh O'Brien who was lying on the floor. She says O'Brien, who was Slocum's step-brother, had his arms up and tried to talk but couldn't get the words out.
"That's when I saw the flash and the gun fire. I freaked out," Colegrove said.
She says Slocum then told her to pack up their son and their belongings and get in the car. On her way out, she says she saw the remains of Lisa and Dan Harrington and their dogs inside their bed, all covered head to toe with a blanket.
While doing that, she says Slocum loaded the car with guns from inside the house, before grabbing a gas can, pouring it inside the house and on the porch and then lighting the home on fire.
She says they then drove to Colegrove's mother's house in Massachusetts, where Slocum asked her step-father about where he could sell guns and other items. After he was told he'd need paperwork to sell the guns, she says they left and threw the guns over the side of the road.
Jurors were shown surveillance video and photos of the couple and their son at pawn shops in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After selling the coins, a photo documenting the sale shows Slocum with a large smile on his face, only hours after prosecutors say he killed his three family members.
June 12 -- 6:25 p.m.
With witness testimony beginning shortly after opening statements, the trial’s first eight witnesses took the stand Monday. Kelly Strack, a forensic investigator with the New York State Police, analyzed much of the evidence in the case and testified about photographs of the crime scene that showed the victims' charred remains inside the home.
Matthew Slocum's cousin, Joshua Coon, also testified that on the day before the triple homicide, he heard Slocum threaten to burn his mother's house down after she refused to give him money.
June 12 -- 12:09 p.m.
Five years ago, a jury found Matthew Slocum guilty of seven charges, including three counts of second degree murder and one count of arson, tied to the deaths of three members of his family. With that conviction overturned, opening statements were held in the 29-year-old’s retrial Monday morning.
"It's really no understatement to call this a nightmare,” said Albany County assistant district attorney Eric Galarneau, the special prosecutor in this case. “In fact, that might be putting it mildly."
Addressing the jury for less than 15 minutes, Eric Galarneau did not waste words while addressing the jury of seven men and five women. Slocum stands accused of shooting and killing his mother, Lisa Harrington, her husband, Dan Harrington and Dan's son, Joshua O'Brien, before burning their home to the ground in July 2011.
"The evidence will show that in welcoming people into their home, Dan and Lisa unwittingly invited disaster,” Galarneau said. “They let the wrong person in.”
Leaving his family members charred remains behind, Slocum allegedly fled to Massachusetts and then New Hampshire with his then girlfriend, Loretta Colegrove, and their infant son, Raymond, in tow.
"She walked out and saw into the living room defendant looming over Josh with a shotgun in his arms," Galarneau said of the moment Colegrove allegedly witnessed Slocum kill O’Brien.
"The first mistake they made, ladies and gentleman, was overlooking Loretta Colegrove,” Slocum’s attorney Michael Mercure said. “You will see and you will hear she is the real murderer."
Referring to Colegrove's "deception" as the second of two tragedies in this case, Mercure hopes to convince jurors she is the true killer. Calling her a "violent" drug addict and alcoholic, he says the young mother resented Dan and Lisa Harrington for criticizing the way she raised her son.
"She had the ability, she had the opportunity and she had the motive,” Mercure said. “You will see she took the opportunity and took the lives of Dan, Lisa and Josh."
After a ruling by the state's highest court, jurors in this trial will not be allowed to hear perceived admissions of guilt Slocum made to law enforcement following his arrest.
While prosecutors expect the same result, Slocum's lawyers are hopeful for an acquittal.
"It's true Dan and Lisa let the wrong person into their house but that person is Loretta Colegrove," said Mercure, who represented Slocum during his first trial.
"At the conclusion of this case I'm going to ask you to do just one thing, that’s to hold [Slocum] responsible and find him guilty of these crimes," Galarneau said.
June 9 -- 3:15 p.m.
Roughly five years after he was found guilty of killing three members of his own family, a jury has been seated in Matthew Slocum's second murder trial.
With the first four jurors seated late Thursday, it took lawyers only a few hours Friday to fill the remaining eight spots, plus four alternates.
"We have a jury, we are happy with the jury," said defense attorney Michael Mercure, "and we don't have any concerns that Mr. Slocum is not going to get a fair trial.
"The case is going to open Monday, and we will all be able to see what the proof is."
June 8 -- 5:26 p.m.
It has been almost six years since the early July morning in White Creek when authorities say Matthew Slocum shot and killed his mother, step-father and step-brother with a shotgun, before burning their house to the ground and then leading police on a multi-state manhunt with his then-girlfriend and their infant son in tow.
In February of 2012, Slocum was found guilty of seven charges, including three counts of second-degree murder, for the deaths of Lisa and Dan Harrington, and Dan's son, Joshua O'Brien. While Slocum was later sentenced to 88 years to life in prison, his lawyer filed an appeal and in the fall of 2015, and the state Supreme Court’s appellate division overturned the guilty verdicts.
The court ruled that statements made by Slocum to police shortly after his arrest should have been inadmissible because he had invoked his right to counsel and his lawyer was not present.
Among other comments, Slocum allegedly told a member of the state police and county sheriff's office: "I just shotgunned my mom, dude."
In February of this year, the New York State Court of Appeals upheld the appellate court's ruling and Slocum was granted a new trial.
Jurors will not hear those statements during this second trial, which is now being handled by a special prosecutor, the Albany County DA's office. The special prosecutor was appointed because of a conflict of interest involving one of Slocum's old attorneys, who's now employed by the Washington County DA's office.
Four jurors were seated Thursday, and as long as the remainder are seated Friday, opening statements are scheduled to be held Monday morning.