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Defense in William Edic trial accuse investigator of shoddy police work

Testimony in the William Edic trial ended yesterday, with the lead investigator coming under fire by a defense attorney for what he portrayed as shoddy police work in the hours after the July 26, 2010, assault that Edic is accused of helping commit.

The witness, state police Sgt. Jeffrey Ladieu, testified Monday that he interviewed inmates in Edic’s pod on the day of the attack, including two who have since testified that they witnessed Edic and a fellow gang member ambush Anthony Renzzulla, who died more than a year later of his injuries.

But Jeremy Clemans, one of Edic’s public defenders, raised several questions yesterday about the quality of Ladieu’s initial investigation. He noted that Ladieu arrived at the prison more than four hours after Renzzulla was found badly beaten, and that he failed to separate the inmates interviewed, as is standard procedure – giving them ample time to collectively frame his client.

The inmates were locked inside the pod after the attack, Ladieu said, but were free to move about inside it.

“And have conversations with one another if they so chose?” Clemans asked.

“Yes,” Ladieu acknowledged. He later explained that separating potential prison witnesses is not always possible because of security concerns.

Clemans also pointed out that Edic was removed for questioning but never returned to the pod, giving his neighbors reason to assume he was being targeted by the police. And he noted that investigators found no evidence that Edic’s alleged gang, the Brotherhood of White Warriors, believed Renzzulla had snitched on its members, which prosecutors have outlined as the motive for the assault.

Edic, now 32, is charged with reckless second-degree murder and falsification of physical evidence. Closing arguments in his weeklong trial are expected this morning in Merrimack County Superior Court. The case will then head to jurors.

Prosecutors called two final witnesses yesterday, including Renzzulla’s mother, Theresa Gilman, who briefly described his condition in the days and months after the attack. She said her son never regained consciousness, although he was eventually able to breathe on his own. He died Nov. 26, 2011, nearly 16 months later.

Dr. Thomas Andrew, the state’s chief medical examiner, performed the autopsy on Renzzulla the day after his death. He told jurors yesterday that inner portions of his brain showed clear signs of scarring and other trauma consistent with repeated blunt force. Inmate witnesses have testified that during the attack, Renzzulla’s head was slammed repeatedly into the pod’s concrete floor.

The defense called only two witnesses yesterday before resting, including an officer who recovered boots from Edic’s room and the state forensics official who tested them for blood. Some blood was found on one of the boots, but it did not match Renzzulla’s. Prosecutors noted, and the forensics official acknowledged, that the blood could have been easily washed off.

The defense tried to call three additional witnesses – all corrections officers – whom they said would refute part of the testimony of Randall Chapman, an earlier witness who said he helped Edic clean up the blood from the attack. Judge Richard McNamara blocked that attempt, saying the incident on which the officers would testify had no direct connection to Edic’s case.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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