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If you live, work, or simply just care about Milford and Orange, this is the site for you. We'll provide you with interesting news about these communities. Most importantly we want to hear from you. Feel free to contact City Editor Helen Bennett Harvey, at or Brian McCready, Milford Bureau Chief, at

Friday, February 10, 2012

My First Murder Trial

When I was hired by the New Haven Register, the day after the Florida hanging chad fiasco in November 2000 I was named the Milford schools' reporter. We used to have six reporters covering Milford back then. Crazy I know. We actually had an Inland Wetlands beat, and that is all the reporter did. Wow the good old days. Anyway I digress.
Over the years I have covered numerous beats, pretty much everything in Milford except courts. We've always had a brilliant court reporter including Tucker McCormack, Meggan Clark, Phil Helsel, who is now with the New York Post, and most recently James Tinley, who is in law school.
It's the one beat I was loathe to cover. It never interested me. I have zero patience and waiting around for attorneys is not my definition of fun.
But things happen. People leave and I was asked to cover Milford court cases the past two years.
It's been pretty slow. A few sentencings and arraignments. No trials.
That changed last week. It was interesting. The case involved three alleged drug dealers from West Haven, who shot and killed a New Haven man for allegedly stealing drugs. The shooting occurred in Milford. That's Milford's only connection to the homicide.
It was still fascinating for me to see Defense Attorney Carmine Giuliano try to attack the prosecution's witnesses, especially a co-defendant. That was his whole case. He called no witnesses.
Equally, it was compelling to see Senior Assistant State's Attorney Charles Stango try to prosecute a case that essentially boiled down to a co-defendant's testimony. The same co-defendant, who agreed to a plea deal before testifying.
After a week the testimony concluded and that was when things got interesting. A juror was tossed Tuesday for bringing a dictionary into the jury room despite the judge's admonishment that they not use any outside sources.
Then a juror wrote a note essentially saying the other jurors were making fun of her because she didn't believe the state's witnesses. I asked veteran court observers whether this was all normal, and they laughed and said absolutely no. I told them I asked because I didn't know better.
In between waiting for a verdict I got to spend significant time with Giuliano, who seemed curious to know what I thought. He spent time with me to explain what he was attempting to do.
I got to speak with Stango briefly, and numerous other court observers, who were all eagerly anticipating a verdict. And finality was reached this morning when it was revealed one juror would not support a conviction.
The woman was passionate in her explanation. She said she just didn't believe the testimony of the state's witnesses. But it was clear to see the passion and anger on the faces of other jurors, who felt like they let an accused murderer get away with exactly that. One juror told me they'd offer to serve on the second jury for free, though I don't think that can legally happen.
It was all an adrenaline rush to see it all unfold. It's definitely much different then how legal cases play out on television. I actually like this version much better.
I will be ready for the second trial. Because of the back log in the Connecticut courts, the next trial won't happen for at least another year. Expediency not so much.
Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
New Haven Register
Twitter @nhrbmccready


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