GOUVERNEUR — Frederick A. Wing Jr. has been released from St. Lawrence County jail, under pr…
GOUVERNEUR — The St. Lawrence County district attorney says Frederick A. Wing Jr. did not kill Ronald E. “Huck” Durham.
Mr. Wing, 22, of Gouverneur was arrested and charged Feb. 11 after the body of Mr. Durham, 72, of Gouverneur, was discovered in East Riverside Cemetery. Mr. Wing was ordered held in the county jail without bail. He was released around 9:21 p.m. Friday and ordered under probationary supervision.
St. Lawrence County DA Gary M. Pasqua said investigators had learned new information that led them to believe Mr. Wing was not the killer. While he was incarcerated, a second murder happened that police and prosecutors believe is related to Mr. Durham’s murder.
On Thursday, authorities were alerted to a remote trailer in the town of Rossie, where they found the body of William M. Freeman, 67.
Several police agencies were called Thursday to 258 County Route 10 where Mr. Freeman’s body was found.
In addition to the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, state police, Homeland Security Investigations, the Watertown Police Department and the North Country Crime Analysis Center were at the crime scene.
According to a St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office report, an autopsy was to be performed Friday by forensic pathology specialist Dr. Michael Sikirica to determine the cause of death.
During a Saturday afternoon phone interview, Mr. Pasqua wouldn’t say much about the link between the Durham and Freeman murders, including the identity of the person of interest in both.
“We know who [that person of interest] is, we know where they are, and they’re not a danger to the community,” Mr. Pasqua said. He wouldn’t say if the person is incarcerated or not.
When asked if Mr. Durham and Mr. Freeman knew each other, Mr. Pasqua said. “I’m not aware of any connection at this time between the two.”
The DA said when Mr. Wing was arrested, the evidence they had at the time pointed to him being involved in Mr. Durham’s death.
“At the time Mr. Wing was arrested and charged, I think law enforcement had more than enough evidence to find there was probable cause to believe he was the individual responsible for Mr. Durham’s death,” Mr. Pasqua said. He added that the evidence included “both physical evidence and information provided by witnesses, that could include the defendant himself.”
He said over the last few days, however, “Mr. Wing was able to provide some information we believe would be helpful to state police in finding the proper culprit of [the Durham] homicide.”
Mr. Pasqua said once he and police investigators figured out Mr. Wing is not a murderer, they rushed to get him freed from the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility.
“Hopefully, we will be able to discuss both cases more in the coming few days,” the DA said.
“Although the evidence at the time (of Mr. Wing’s arrest) indicated Mr. Wing was responsible, that’s changed, and we did everything we could to ensure there was no injustice done to Mr. Wing so he wasn’t incarcerated for something we now don’t believe he did,” Mr. Pasqua said. “I think it was the excellent work of law enforcement, New York State Police, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security, working on conjunction with both Mr. Durham’s case and the case in Rossie that led to what we’ve seen happen over these last few days.”
Mr. Wing is now represented by attorney Edward F. Narrow, who said he does not think his client will be charged with any lesser offenses connected to Mr. Durham’s death.
“In my opinion, the answer is no. But charging decisions are always made by law enforcement and, in some cases, with the District Attorney’s Office,” Mr. Narrow said Saturday afternoon.
He opined that murder charges against Mr. Wing may be dropped within two months. Mr. Wing is due in court Monday morning to be given his official restrictions while released under probationary supervision.
“I don’t anticipate it will be that early. I’m thinking within 60 days it seems like a reasonable time frame,” Mr. Narrow said.
Relatives of Mr. Wing have said he’s innocent of killing Mr. Durham. They say the two were close friends, almost like a father-and-son relationship, and Mr. Wing was devastated when he learned Mr. Durham had died.
Mr. Wing is intellectually disabled, such that he’s unable to do things neurotypical people may take for granted, like being able to work a steady job or drive a car. He’s also not able to understand legal terms, according to his cousin, Jessica M. Bice.
On Friday morning, Mr. Wing had a bail hearing in front of St. Lawrence County Court Judge Gregory P. Storie, who initially denied bail. Ms. Bice was in attendance.
“When the judge was talking about he could be put [in prison] for life ... he didn’t understand,” Ms. Bice said. “All he knew was he wasn’t going home, and he started to cry at that point.”
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