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Hilary held on no bail following hearing, ties to St. Lawrence County at heart of hearing

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CANTON — The man accused of murdering Garrett J. Phillips, the 12-year-old Potsdam boy found strangled in his home in 2011, was returned to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility without bail Monday afternoon following a bond hearing.

Oral “Nick” Hillary, 39, of 131 Leroy St., Potsdam, was indicted Thursday by a grand jury on a second-degree murder charge and was sent to the county jail on $75,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond.

Bail bondsman Giuseppe Newton, New York City, stood beside Hillary in court Monday and told the judge that he had secured three pieces of property, which would cover the $150,000 bond. Mr. Newton said Empire Bail Bonds would be willing to undertake the security.

The attempt at Hillary’s release was stifled, however, when St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain provided two orders to show cause to the court.

In the first order, Ms. Rain will argue again about the bail and bond’s sufficiency, requesting it be increased. Ms. Rain also requested that an exhibit attached to that order be sealed because it “may tend to prejudice potential jurors who live in the county.”

If Judge Richards does not increase the bail and bond amounts, Ms. Rain said, she will seek to have the court place restrictions on Mr. Hillary similar to other defendants released under probation supervision. They may include revoking his passport, since he is a native of Jamaica with family ties on the island, and stipulating that he not be allowed to consume alcohol or use illicit drugs such as marijuana.

“Depositions in his civil matter against the village of Potsdam state that he was a habitual marijuana smoker,” Ms. Rain said. “He was also arrested for having a pound or more of marijuana in 2000 that was reduced to a misdemeanor.”

A second order to show cause looks to examine the value of the three properties offered for bond. “We have to make sure that it is worth $150,000 because the court needs to get that money if he absconds,” Ms. Rain said.

Judge Richards scheduled the matter for 1 p.m. May 30 so that Hillary’s attorney, Christopher Renfroe of New York City, can be notified of the orders filed by Ms. Rain.

Hillary’s ties to the Canton and Potsdam communities were at the heart of his original bail hearing Friday in county court after he pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

Hillary, who migrated to New York City in 1989 from his native Jamaica, is on administrative leave from his position as head coach of the Clarkson University men’s soccer team, where he has been employed for the last six seasons.

Hillary first planted roots in Canton in 1995 when he began his college education and collegiate soccer stardom at St. Lawrence University. Supporters from St. Lawrence University’s athletic community attended Hillary’s original bail hearing Friday morning, but would not comment on the arrest. Before his tutelage under SLU Coach Bob Durocher, Hillary served in the Army, where he helped cleanup efforts after the first Gulf War.

Following military discharge, he played four years on SLU soccer teams that had a combined 62-7-7 record and earned regional Defensive Player of the Year and National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American honors in 1999.

According to Clarkson University’s website, right after graduation he joined the SUNY Potsdam coaching staff as an assistant for a year before moving to Florida to continue his coaching career. He taught high school mathematics and coached soccer at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Fla. He also coached Tampa Bay Global United Soccer in 2006, Pinellas Park United Soccer from 2005 to 2007 and Largo United Soccer Club from 2003 to 2006.

In 2007, Hillary returned to SLU to assist his former coach, Mr. Durocher. “It was a lot different, but a lot the same,” Hillary said in an interview in August 2009 about his return to his alma mater. “The history and the traditions was what I was accustomed to as a player, just operating from a coach’s standpoint.”

Under Mr. Durocher’s tutelage, Hillary learned about recruiting and scouting.

In July 2009 he took those skills to Clarkson University, where in August 2013 he had a five-season record of 18-39-9. He led the Golden Knights to a regional ranking in each of his first two seasons, while posting a 2-2-1 record against teams that reached the NCAA tournament in 2011.

Clarkson University Associate Athletic Director Laurel Kane is filling his position.

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