BRATTLEBORO — A judge has rejected a move by the defense attorney for John Grega to interview his slain wife’s elderly mother and sister, saying there was not just cause for re-interviewing them almost 20 years after her death.
“The court cannot find that as to these witnesses, there is just cause for re-deposing them,” ruled Judge John Wesley.
“None of the witnesses was involved in the investigation, nor has first hand knowledge as to the crime scene,” the judge wrote in a decision release last week.
Wesley noted that both Ethel Veal and Barbara Randazzo, her sister, had been interviewed prior to the first trial and their depositions were available to the defense team.
Wesley rejected a request by Ian Carleton, Grega’s lead defense attorney, to interview Christine Grega’s family members and two of her close friends.
“The court is particularly skeptical of the suggestion that further inquiry should be allowed to inquire as to any witnesses’ response to the DNA evidence developed since the initial trial,” the judge added.
The judge noted that he had found just cause earlier for re-interviewing other witnesses, particularly police detectives and other investigators.
Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver had sought a protective order to prohibit Carleton from re-interviewing Christine Grega’s family, in particular her 82-year-old mother, saying the family members and friends “were nowhere near the crime scene at any time.”
Grega was released from prison last August after Wesley granted his motion for a new trial on the murder case. DNA testing, which was not available at the time of his 1995 trial, revealed the presence of a mystery man’s DNA in Christine Grega’s body.
The Long Island, N.Y., couple had come to the Mount Snow region in September 1994, along with their toddler son, to work on their troubled marriage. John Grega was convicted of the sexual assault and murder of his wife, and had been sentenced to life in prison.
“In regard to Christine Grega’s family, the state notes that the Vermont Legislature has indicated that crime victims deserve protection and should be treated with dignity and respect, and that the court shall treat them with courtesy and sensitivity,” wrote Shriver, in asking for the protective order.
“They should be protected from the stress and inconvenience of another deposition absent a showing of good cause,” she added.
Carleton, who is being aided in the retrial by several Boston attorneys affiliated with the New England Innocence Project, had argued that Christine Grega’s mother’s original deposition was “superficial and inadequate.” He noted that her 1995 deposition, which took place with her husband, only last 20 minutes, and only dealt with the Gregas’ young son.
He said that a deposition would determine whether Veal suffers from memory loss of dementia. She now lives in Florida.
Carleton argued that Veal’s testimony was crucial during the trial to shed light on her daughter’s troubled marriage, and John Grega’s drinking.
Carleton wrote that he wanted to interview Christine Grega’s sister to inquire about her contact with Vermont law enforcement officials, particularly since the mystery DNA was discovered about a year ago.
“Certainly it would be more respectful and sensitive to Mrs. Randazzo to make any such inquiries for the first time in a deposition as opposed to in open court,” he said, referring to the future trial.
No date has been set for the trial, although it is not expected to start until 2014.
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