John Grega appears in Windham District Court in Brattleboro, Vt., Thursday, July 26, 2012, for a status hearing. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
John Grega appears in Windham District Court in Brattleboro, Vt., Thursday, July 26, 2012, for a status hearing. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Saturday December 29, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- John Grega took one more step on his long walk toward freedom Friday when a Windham County Superior Judge agreed to reduce the number of times he has to check in with the Vermont State Police.

Grega, 50, was convicted of killing his wife, Christine, in West Dover in 1994, and he spent 18 years in prison, but Judge John Wesley threw out that conviction this year after newly tested DNA evidence raised questions about Grega's involvement in the crime.

On Friday, Grega's attorney Ian Carleton asked Wesley to reduce the number of times Grega has to check in every day and Wesley agreed that once a day, in the morning, should suffice.

Carleton said Grega is undergoing physical rehabilitation following knee surgery, and Carleton also said Grega is thinking about going back to work, and the afternoon phone call, Carleton said, was an undue burden.

Carleton argued that Grega has called Vermont every day since he was released, even after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power through much of Long Island in September.

Carleton said Grega would be developing stronger ties to his community by finding work in the area.

Grega, who is living with his mother in Lake Ronkonkoma, on Long Island, will now be expected to call in to the Rockingham Vermont State Police barracks once a day, between 6 and 7 a.m.

Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver argued against Carleton's motion.


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She said Grega is still facing charges of murder, and other people have had more onerous conditions while facing far less serious crimes, she said.

Wesley said Grega's $75,000 bail was a stronger assurance that he would not flee, and he agreed with Carleton that a single phone call every day was enough.

Grega was visiting West Dover with his family in 1994 when his wife was found murdered in their rented condominium.

He was convicted of killing her, but was released from Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield on Aug. 22.

Grega has maintained his innocence from the start.

Grega was released from prison this summer after newly tested DNA evidence from the crime scene cast some doubt on his conviction.

A 2009 Vermont law allows people convicted of serious felons to have DNA tested with technology that was not available at the time of the crime and Grega is the first Vermont inmate to be released under law.

The new evidence shows that there was DNA from an unknown man inside Christine Grega's body.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.