Photo credit: NCPR
Canton – The first day of jury selection in the murder trial of Oral “Nick” Hillary concluded Wednesday. Eight women and two men were selected for trial while six jurors and four alternates remained to be picked. Judge Felix J. Catena has yet to decide whether to allow St. Lawrence Country District Attorney Mary E. Rain and Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick, who is assisting in the prosecution, another hearing to determine if a DNA sample is admissible at trial.
During jury selection, Mr. Fitzpatrick warned prospective and chosen jurors, “You cannot convict this man because someone has a thirst for vengeance. Promise me this defendant is going to feel sympathy for Garrett during this trial.” He continued, “If I have not proven this case, can you give me your solemn word that you will find him not guilty?”
Despite Fitzpatrick’s plea to jurors, Nick Hillary decided to waive his right to a trial by jury early Thursday morning. Hillary asked presiding Judge Felix Catena to hear his second-degree murder case and issue a ruling, without considering a verdict from 16 St. Lawrence Country jurors. The decision came after a long night of discussions between Hillary and his defense team. Defense attorney, Earl Ward, said, “We picked a fair jury yesterday. But we also have a fair judge, and we opted for a fair judge. That’s the bottom line.”
The trial will begin Monday morning.