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Grand jury to hear testimony in Garrett Phillips case Monday

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CANTON — A St. Lawrence County grand jury will hear testimony Monday in the two-year investigation into the death of Garrett J. Phillips, the 12-year-old Potsdam boy who was found murdered in his home.

Garrett was found unconscious Oct. 24, 2011, at North Country Manor Apartments, 100 Market St., after neighbors heard screams and cries for help. He was pronounced dead that evening at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam.

Patricia L. Phillips, Garrett’s paternal grandmother, said she was subpoenaed along with Garrett’s uncle Brian A. Phillips, who started the Justice for Garrett reward fund. Mr. Phillips’s daughter, Kayla R. Phillips, 15, is expected to be subpoenaed later this week.

“She was the last one that he was seen with on the school parking lot when he left to go home,” Mrs. Phillips said. “We got subpoenaed on Sunday; we just got notified that she will be getting hers.”

Mr. Phillips said he believes there must be enough evidence to present to a grand jury since the investigation has moved to this next level.

“I would hope that the evidence they present would hopefully have an indictment at the end. It would be one step closer for getting justice for Garrett,” Mr. Phillips said. “I credit law enforcement, elected officials and anyone who put time into this case.”

Garrett’s mother, Tandy L. Cyrus, who also was subpoenaed, declined comment.

Mrs. Phillips said she hopes that a grand jury indictment is the next, long awaited step in finding closure in the death of her grandson.

“I am hoping that we will get our justice. I have a lot of mixed feelings here, but I think we are on the right track,” Mrs. Phillips said. “I think they’ve got a lot of information. I think we have a lot in our favor. I am just hoping that it keeps going in our favor.”

Along with members of the Phillips family, Mrs. Phillips said, she was told by St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain that about 20 other people are expected to testify, including Potsdam village police officers and the teenage daughter of Oral “Nick” Hillary, the Clarkson University men’s soccer coach who had been a person of interest in the boy’s death.

Mr. Hillary filed state Supreme Court action in Canton in September 2012, claiming police detained him illegally and damaged his reputation by making statements implicating him in the death

Mrs. Phillips said the family recently learned that Mr. Hillary’s daughter is alleged to have been his alibi at the time of Garrett’s death. Previously, she said the family believed an assistant coach at Clarkson University, Potsdam, was Mr. Hilary’s alibi.

Ms. Rain said she was legally forbidden to talk about any potential grand jury action. She wouldn’t confirm or deny that subpoenas had been sent out.

“I can only tell you, generally speaking, once an indictment is filed I can talk about the who, what, when and where of the case,” Ms. Rain said.

While a potential indictment is a huge step, his grandmother said, not even a conviction could bring him back.

“It’s hard. It’s not going to make us any better,” Mrs. Phillips said. “We have lost something precious to us, but at least it will get the closure, so it’s going to make us feel good when we know the person who did this gets convicted of it.”

During her campaign for district attorney, Ms. Rain said she hoped to get to work immediately helping Garrett’s family find justice for his death. She said Thursday that she has been working on the case steadily since Jan. 2, keeping the family apprised of any progress being made that wouldn’t compromise the investigation.

Ms. Rain said she met recently with Mutual Assistance Committee of the District Attorneys Association of New York to seek assistance in the case “with resources that can supplement and enhance the prosecution.”

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