Lawyer in inmate slaying asks for clarification; second suspect arraigned
The attorney who represented Thomas Milton when prosecutors filed and then dropped charges accusing him of beating a fellow prison inmate in 2010 has asked a judge to clarify whether he’s still Milton’s lawyer, now that the man has been charged with murder.
Milton, 30, was arrested last week in Florida and is in the process of being extradited to New Hampshire.
In a motion filed at Merrimack County Superior Court, attorney Ted Barnes questioned whether he has remained Milton’s attorney since charges against him were dropped in May 2010 because it was clear that the investigation into 44-year-old Anthony Renzzulla’s death was ongoing.
“I’m not sure what my status is, but I feel like I have some or may have some professional and ethical obligations there,” Barnes said yesterday. “So I’m trying to put it out there and see what the court thinks.”
Barnes said in his motion that he has attempted to reach Milton since his arrest, but officials have refused to provide him with contact information. He goes on to raise concerns about any recent contact between Milton and investigators, saying the legality of those potential interviews could be questioned depending on his status as Milton’s lawyer.
Barnes acknowledged in his motion that he’s unaware of whether Milton was interviewed by investigators and whether those potential interviews took place at Milton’s urging – “as he certainly is free to do” – or at the investigator’s request.
Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley wouldn’t confirm yesterday whether an interview between Milton and investigators led to his arrest. He said he doesn’t share Barnes’s concerns.
“We don’t go around looking to violate criminal defendants’ rights,” he said.
And he stressed that questions about evidence can be raised by Milton’s attorney, once he is assigned or hires one in New Hampshire.
“Mr. Barnes’s motion is worded in terms of potentials and what he thinks may have happened,” Hinckley said. “Generally, once an attorney is appointed to a criminal defendant, the attorney will assess whether there is certain evidence the attorney feels incriminates his or her client and that attorney wants to preclude from being introduced at trial. . . . So once Mr. Milton has an attorney here, that attorney, I’m sure whether it’s (Barnes) or someone else, will review that and file an appropriate motion.”
Hinckley also said Milton would have had a lawyer present after he was taken into custody in Florida.
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler has decided to hold a hearing on the matter; a date has not been scheduled.
A second man charged in connection to Renzzulla’s death, 31-year-old William Edic, was arraigned yesterday at Concord’s district court. A judge ordered him held without bail.
No new details about the case were provided at the arraignment, where Renzzulla’s mother and her husband clasped each others’ hands as Edic entered the courtroom.
An affidavit and search warrant are sealed from public view.
A probable cause hearing, where a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for the case against Edic to be forwarded to a Merrimack County grand jury, will be held June 24.
Prosecutors say the two men kicked Renzzulla repeatedly inside Concord’s state prison, causing injuries that led to his death after 16 months on life support. In addition to the second-degree murder charges, both men have also been charged with hindering prosecution and falsifying physical evidence.
According to the complaint, they tried to conceal the crime by cleaning up blood at the scene and destroying those cleaning supplies including towels and other cloths.
Both men had previously been indicted in connection to the attack on Renzzulla but those charges – for attempted murder and assault – were filed before he died.
The cases were dropped about six months after Renzzulla was taken off life support.
Officials wouldn’t say at the time whether the decision was made because harsher charges were warranted. Hinckley has declined to comment on why murder charges weren’t filed then or what new information officials have obtained that allows them to go forward with the cases now.
Hinckley said Milton is not fighting his extradition and could be in New Hampshire by the end of the month.