Inmate witness in Edic trial makes appeal to victim’s mother
Prosecutors in the second-degree murder trial of William Edic continued to build their case yesterday, calling yet another alleged eyewitness to the 2010 prison attack that led to the death of Anthony “Tony” Renzzulla.
But on the fourth day of testimony in Merrimack County Superior Court, it seemed that much of their work was done for them – by the preceding witness, William Morel.
Morel, Edic’s cellmate at the time of the July 26, 2010, assault, came under sharp cross-examination for a second day as the defense again questioned just how much he had gained by outing Edic and his alleged accomplice, Thomas Milton. But it was Morel who at times appeared to take an upper hand, repeatedly criticizing public defender Donna Brown for “grasping at straws.”
Asked at one point whether he was worried about how other inmates would perceive his testimony, Morel quickly fired back, saying he was more concerned that Renzzulla’s mother, Theresa Gilman, got some closure.
“If you choose to mix up whatever you want to mix up and decide to go wherever with it, then that’s fine,” he told Brown. “And if these (jurors) don’t believe that I’m telling the truth, then that’s fine, too.” He turned to Gilman in the gallery: “But I know that, Ms. Gilman, standing there, from my heart to your heart, ma’am, this is the god’s honest truth: That man there is one of the men who beat your son to death.”
Edic, now 32, is charged with reckless second-degree murder and falsification of physical evidence. Prosecutors claim he and Milton ambushed Renzzulla inside a second-floor living pod, at the direction of a high-ranking gang official. Defense attorneys argue that inmates have framed Edic in exchange for prison benefits, including early release, preferential living conditions and priority access to programs.
Morel testified Friday that he was one of a handful of prisoners present during the assault. Another, Patrick Fisher, testified later yesterday that Milton had been seated below him on a bunk bed when Renzzulla entered the pod. He then echoed the account offered by Morel and an earlier witness, Michael Mendoza, that Milton jumped Renzzulla from behind, and that Edic rushed over and together they began stomping and kicking his limp body, “almost like a soccer ball.”
Asked by prosecutor Jay McCormack why he didn’t try to step in, Fisher said he froze.
“I was scared,” he said. “It was my first time being in prison. I didn’t think it could get that bad.”
But Brown questioned the reliability of Fisher’s account, noting that he had struggled early in the investigation to pick Edic out of a lineup of suspects, and that his recollection of how Renzzulla’s body was dragged outside the pod was not entirely consistent. She also pointed out that, in exchange for his testimony, Fisher is being housed in a county jail that is highly reputable among convicts.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)