Oct. 24 marked the ninth anniversary of the murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips. Garrett was found unconscious in his home and died that night due to injuries inflicted by a yet unknown perpetrator.
Since then, St. Lawrence County law enforcement has been unable to piece together the facts surrounding this tragedy and bring about justice for Garrett Phillips and the wider community. District Attorney Gary Pasqua refused to hand over the Garrett Phillips investigation to the state attorney general.
Mr. Pasqua stated that he is the best person to solve the case of Garrett Phillips while admitting he is no closer to doing so than his predecessor, Mary Rain. Pasqua’s statement is akin to a doctor telling his patient that he is best equipped to cure his cancer yet is unable to detect it. Nonetheless, he goes on to assure his patient that he need not look anywhere else for a possible second opinion or more skilled physician.
The unsolved murder of Garrett Phillips is a cancer on the people and law enforcement of St. Lawrence County that has been growing since Oct. 24, 2011. Potsdam and St. Lawrence have received unwanted publicity due to the handling of the case and allegations of racism that have stemmed from the investigation. There is a stench of coverup.
Potsdam Police Chief Mark Murray and district attorney investigator Edward Tischler were involved in the original Garrett Phillips investigation, which resulted in allegations of conspiracy and constitutional violations.
Worse, a local law enforcement agent who was a one-time suspect had a major role in the investigation and a strong personal relationship with the other lead investigators. In fact, that agent sat in the same room with the police chief and then district attorney planning how the murder investigation would proceed.
When does a suspect participate in framing a plan for the criminal investigation? This diminishes the trust the public has in local authorities to solve the murder.
Pasqua cast himself as an outsider and reformer during his 2017 campaign. Yet he promptly rehired Dan Manor, the chief DA investigator who was intimately involved in the original Garrett Phillips investigation. Like his predecessor, Mary Rain, Pasqua continues to rely on investigators who publicly declared the Garrett Phillips investigation closed.
Mr. Pasqua confirmed his desire to seek re-election and vows not to bring up the Garrett Phillips case during his future campaign. Why would he? In District Attorney Gary Pasqua, those who do not want to see Justice for Garrett have an ally as reliable as Mary Rain and politician more interested in re-election than justice. St. Lawrence County deserves a district attorney committed to solving the murder of a child seen on video just a short distance from home less than 13 minutes before he was attacked.
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