BRATTLEBORO -- A man accused of killing his wife in 1994 will have to wait before an attorney is appointed to represent him in a new trial after a district judge's ruling on Tuesday.
Fifty-year-old John Grega had asked Windham Superior Court Judge John Wesley to appoint Ian Carleton as his attorney and grant him ad-hoc status through the Defender General's office.
Despite Carleton's argument during a scheduling conference, Wesley said he had no authority to do so nor does Grega's case warrant such an exception from the status quo.
"I do not believe anything said today gives me the authority to make that appointment," Wesley said. "No doubt about it, it's an unusual case, but not so unusual that we're going to go away from laws ... (and a) very carefully constructed system of providing council."
Grega, who was convicted of killing his wife in 1995, has spent the last 18 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn't commit.
Last month, DNA evidence raised questions about Grega's guilt and he was released from prison and granted a new trial.
In his letter to Judge Wesley, Grega wrote that he has "major concerns" regarding the possible appointment of an attorney by the Defender General's office.
"In the brief time that I was represented by the Defender General's Office over the past year I was deeply disturbed in the manner they handled my case," Grega wrote. "The Defender General seemed to operate by
Grega claims the Defender General's Office cultivated a relationship with an unnamed reporter to gain favorable press by leaking information about the newly discovered DNA evidence.
He says an attorney representing him tried to persuade him to meet with a reporter at the Southern State Correctional Facility and despite his refusal, an article was written, which he claims is "factually incorrect, inflammatory, and I believe detrimental to my case."
Grega also wrote the Defender General's Office gave little to no council on how they should proceed with his case.
"Lastly, and most disturbingly, their office contacted members of my family, without my knowledge, in an attempt to get them to persuade me into accepting my false conviction in exchange for a deal with the state to get out of prison," Grega claims.
For the past eight years, Carleton has worked with Grega on his appeals and has done so almost entirely for free, Grega stated. Carleton told the court on Tuesday that he couldn't proceed as Grega's attorney on a pro bono basis.
Grega wrote that he wouldn't feel comfortable with any other attorney.
"I am the only person on Earth who knows my case better than Ian," Grega wrote. "The thought of trying to bring another attorney up to speed with my case in preparation for trial is mind boggling and overwhelming to me. My family does not have the financial resources to retain an attorney, having posted my bond. My family scraped together this money in order to get me out of prison."
Grega stated this new trial is in "stark contrast" to his original trial, where his parents mortgaged their home to retain council for him.
Grega filled out and turned in his application for an appointed attorney and should be granted someone from the serious felonies unit, attorneys who are contracted by the Defender General's Office, but who represent clients on behalf of the office, not as part of it, according to Judge Wesley.
A scheduling conference was also set for Sept. 26 at 2:30 p.m., so Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver and whoever ends up representing Grega can establish a timeline for his new trial.
Shriver also handed Grega a compact disk containing all of her collected evidence in the case, more than 6,500 pages worth of material.
Josh Stilts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.