Vt. prosecutor: Murder conviction should stand

Posted July 27, 2012, at 8:51 p.m.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — A Vermont prosecutor said Friday the evidence that a 50-year-old former New York man killed his wife in 1994 is overwhelming and his conviction should stand, even if DNA evidence points in a different direction.

Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver made the argument in a brief filed in Windham Superior Court in Brattleboro, three days after lawyers for John Grega asked that he be freed or given a new trial. Grega is formerly of Lake Grove, N.Y.

“The scientific evidence relied upon here cannot, alone, overcome the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that John Grega is the person responsible for his wife’s murder,” Shriver wrote.

Christine Grega was found dead Sept. 12, 1994, in a whirlpool bath in a condominium in West Dover, where she, her husband and their young son were vacationing. She had been raped, sodomized, beaten and strangled.

Shriver said the condo was cleaned before police were called. Also, she said, Grega gave investigators conflicting stories, first saying his wife’s injuries were accidental and later blaming her death on two painters working that day in the complex.

Grega’s lawyers maintain new tests of DNA from skin cells taken from inside Christine Grega’s body show her assailant was not her husband, but another, unknown male.

Shriver and former Windham County State’s Attorney Dan Davis, who prosecuted Grega, said in interviews this week that the skin particles likely were on an object Grega used to attack his wife.

Grega’s legal team, Burlington lawyer Ian Carleton and Dawn Matthews, a deputy of state Defender General Matthew Valerio, have rejected the state’s theory, saying the state had not identified what sort of object Grega might have used nor entered it into evidence.

In Friday’s filing, Shriver surmised that the object used to sodomize Christine Grega was a beer bottle. She said investigators found that John Grega had consumed several beers that day.

Valerio said in a phone interview that he did not want to comment.

“This is the kind of thing that’s going to end up getting hashed out by the court when there’s a hearing,” he said.

The state also is looking at other possible sources of the DNA. Shriver said Thursday the object with skin cells on it might have been something handled by a previous renter of the condo. But she said rental office records containing the previous renters’ names were destroyed by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

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