GOUVERNEUR — The St. Lawrence County district attorney says Frederick A. Wing Jr. did not kill Ronald E. “Huck” Durham.
GOUVERNEUR — Frederick A. Wing Jr. has been released from St. Lawrence County jail, under probationary supervision.
Relatives of Mr. Wing had said they believe he’s innocent of killing Ronald E. “Huck” Durham.
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary M. Pasqua now agrees after investigators learned new information that led them to believe Mr. Wing is not the killer.
Relatives say Mr. Wing, 22, and Mr. Durham, 72, both of Gouverneur, 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.”
She says her cousin is happy again and thrilled to be free and back home with his family.
“He said the jail beds were uncomfortable and he was happy to be in his own bed. He had a cup of coffee this morning and he said he was happy to be with family,” Ms. Bice said Saturday afternoon.
She said she doesn’t believe Mr. Wing was able to understand the situation in which he found himself after being arrested. She visited her cousin in jail the Sunday after he was arrested and asked him if he understood he’s being charged with a felony and what his Miranda rights are.
“When I asked him about what Miranda rights were, he thought it had something to do with drinking. He thought he was in trouble for something with drinking,” she said.
She says he also didn’t know what a felony means.
“He thought it was something he had to pay for. He said he didn’t have any money for it,” because Mr. Wing’s only income is from SSI, Ms. Bice said.
She credits a community effort with helping in getting Mr. Wing freed and shown to police that he isn’t Mr. Durham’s killer. He initially had been represented by a public defender, but now has Mr. Narrow for his defense counsel.
“Early on, Jessica actually reached out to us, but we weren’t available to rep Mr. Wing. Circumstances have changed and I’m happy to be Freddy’s attorney at this point in time,” Mr. Narrow said.
“Our family thanks the community that stood behind Freddy’s innocence. There’s a lot of community members that are still rallying ... they knew his innocence from the beginning and we want to thank everybody who stood behind him. It was a long 20 days,” Ms. Bice said. “There were a lot of community members asking for ways to help, if a Go Fund Me would be an option, to community members reaching out to try to pull strings to get an attorney, or just sending their well wishes that they’re thinking of the family and hopefully the truth would finally come out.”
For now, Ms. Bice said, Mr. Wing wants to properly say goodbye and mourn his late friend Mr. Durham.
“At this point he just wants to be able to say goodbye to his friend, in the respectful manner he deserves. And he said he wants a tractor. He doesn’t understand he could potentially have had life, like the kid in ‘Making a Murderer’ who didn’t have the intellectual ability to understand it,” she said.
Mr. Wing was arrested and charged Feb. 11 after the body of Mr. Durham 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.
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