Judge rejects Cox motion to ban The Sun from covering St. Hilaire trial, then finds St. Hilaire guilty of larceny
Mitchell Kaplan, the Middlesex Superior Court judge overseeing the trial of retired Lowell building commissioner David St. Hilaire, rejected a motion by defense lawyer John Cox to bar The Sun from covering the trial, which ended Friday when the judge found St. Hilaire guilty of larceny.
Cox, the former state representative and Lowell city manager, expressed his concerns to the judge at the start of the trial that The Sun was covering the trial and that coverage could be read by any witnesses in the case.
Kaplan, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2009, told Cox that is the hazard faced with any trial and that he couldn’t place a gag order on the newspaper’s coverage.
St. Hilaire is facing charges of larceny and obtaining a signature by false pretenses.
The prosecution alleges that on July 26, 2010, while 86-year-old Erika Magill was critically ill and would die days later, St. Hilaire had her sign a quit-claim deed to her property at 205 Billerica St. in Lowell.
In exchange for the deed, St. Hilaire showed police the paperwork, which Magill never signed, that promised to pay Magill $92,000 in two mortgages and a “life estate,” that let her live on the property until her death.
After three days of testimony in a jury-waived trial, prosecutor David Solet and Cox wrapped up their cases Thursday. At the end of testimony, Kaplan told St. Hilaire, 64, that he’ll announce the his verdict after 2 p.m. Friday, which is precisely what happened.
St. Hilaire was found not-guilty on a charge of obtaining a signature under false pretenses. When the guilty verdict was read, St. Hilaire collapsed, to recover minutes later. He was fined $2,500. No incarceration. Now the question is what happens, if anything, to his pension?
One of the prosecution’s witnessed was Eileen Donoghue, the former Lowell mayor, city councilor and current state senator. She was Magill’s lawyer before she died. Read more about her exchange with Cox here.Explore posts in the same categories: The Column