Who Killed Garrett Phillips? (2019) Movie Script

( plaintive theme plays )
Bailiff: All rise.
Thank you very much,
Your Honor,
and a good afternoon
to you.
The narrative of this case
up to this point
has been very, very simple.
A group of,
uh, bungling,
incompetent cops
from a small town
in upstate New York...
on a razor-thin
amount of evidence...
brought a case
against a man
perhaps insidiously
motivated by the color
of his skin.
Great TV,
great theater,
but ultimately
it's not about tunnel vision,
rush to judgment,
the defendant's race.
It's about 30 minutes
in Potsdam...
4:53 p.m. to 5:23 p.m.
on Monday,
October 24th, 2011.
( rain falling )
The death of a child
is always tragic.
There is pain
and grief,
and there is sorrow.
And with that pain
and sorrow,
there is naturally
a cry for justice,
a cry for someone
to be held accountable,
but it must be
the right person.
( piano theme playing )
Marissa Vogel: My boyfriend
and I went to Potsdam
to both attend college,
and I felt
right at home, right away,
the first year.
It was very homey.
It was very simple,
that small-town feel
where everybody
knows everybody,
and you just live
your daily life.
We found our apartment
at 100 Market Street
at the beginning
of the summer of 2010.
It was not like
your typical college apartment.
It was clean, it looked
like you could live in it,
and it was homey,
and, uh, the whole building
was well-kept,
and it felt very safe.
You're sharing a wall
with somebody,
so we could hear
the muffled noises,
but I didn't really know a lot
about what was going on
on the other side,
and I knew that there was
two young boys.
Definitely could
hear a skateboard going
down the hallway sometimes,
some footsteps, some--
you know, you could hear them
talking back and forth.
Sean Hall: We knew we
really didn't have much
in common with them--
two boys that were
12 and younger,
and a single mother.
Us two college kids,
we didn't really
have too much to talk about.
Shannon Harris:
I'd seen Garrett,
and I believe it was
his little brother with him,
on their little scooters
in the front parking lot,
driving all around.
Andrew and I
started dating.
He lived
with his parents
at 100 Market Street
in the back building.
It's cozy, quiet,
and everybody
knows everybody.
I feel like now we have
a connection with this family
that we don't even know,
we'll always have that.
( rain falling )
It was just a normal day.
I actually came home
than I was normally
coming home at that time.
I arrived home
around 4:15, 4:20,
and we started
to cook dinner.
Actually, Sean cooked dinner.
The whole process took
about half an hour,
so, about 5:00,
everything got plated up,
and we went into our bedroom
to eat and watch a TV show.
We watched Dexter.
We're big fans.
Shannon: It was around 5:00,
right before dinnertime.
We were outside
of the back building,
changing Andrew's tire.
He was down on the ground.
We were standing there.
He was underneath the car
with a jack, lifting it up.
While Andrew
was underneath the car,
I kept hearing
multiple noises,
could not figure out
what it was.
I kept looking up there.
Couldn't see anything.
While we were watching
the show and eating,
we weren't really
chitchatting anymore,
so we were just
listening to the show,
and that's when we heard
the running and, um,
the crash.
( indistinct noises )
There was silence
after the crash,
and a few seconds later,
uh, we heard a moan for help,
and it sounded like
either "ow" or "no."
It was definitely
a child's voice,
but it sounded scared
and it sounded, you know,
muffled through the wall,
but I could hear
that word "help,"
and I will never
forget that word.
Just... it sounded scared.
This isn't really
the time to ignore it
and just think
nothing happened.
When I knocked on the door
of the other apartment--
When I knocked
on the other door,
I heard a slight noise
behind the door.
I couldn't tell you
what it was,
but then I heard a click,
and it was one of
those things where my mind
instantly knew that
it was a lock clicking.
She turned around
and I could see in her eyes
that she was not comfortable
with whatever it was
she heard or felt.
Potsdam Police,
Dispatcher Snyder.
Hi, um, my name
is Marissa Vogel, and...
Where do you live?
Sorry, 100 Market Street,
North Country
Manor Apartments.
Okay, I'll have
somebody check on it.
Thank you so much.
Thank you, bye-bye.
Within a few minutes,
a police officer
had arrived on the scene.
We heard him
walk up the stairs,
knock on the door
to the other apartment.
( indistinct
police radio chatter )
Dispatcher: 17:16.
Rick: Hello?
Dispatcher: Hi,
is this Rick Dumas?
Yes, it is.
- Dispatcher: Marissa?
- Marissa: Yes?
They do have an emergency
in that location.
Could you assist me
by going down
and waving down
the rescue squad
when they arrive?
- Yes, I could do that.
- Thank you very much.
I believe they left
the door open
because I could hear
their voices.
I couldn't hear
what they were saying,
but I could hear
that they started to sound
a little... um...
Marissa: I couldn't tell you
how long the rest of it took.
It seemed like a whirlwind.
It was just,
once everybody was there,
there was people running
up and down the stairs,
and the gurney went up,
and, um,
then they took Garrett down,
it kind of seemed as though
everything stopped.
Officer Wentworth:
Ed Tischler:
Okay, yeah.
To my knowledge,
Ed Tischler:
Um, I mean, it's--
I think I got a phone call
from Tandy about 6:08,
stating, "Could you run
over to the hospital?"
She goes,
"I'm headed there now."
Some parents, I guess,
apparently told her,
"Where have you been?
Something's happened
to Garrett.
You need to get
to the hospital.
And then she immediately
thought of me first,
and called me because, uh...
um... you know, I've always
been dependable with Tandy.
She can count on me.
I was out back,
and I heard my aunt scream,
and you knew
something wasn't right.
And she said,
"Get to the hospital.
Something's wrong
with Garrett."
So, I think my mother,
Tandy and myself
went into the room.
( distant sirens wail )
Patricia Phillips:
And when I got in there,
I see him layin' there.
They had him
on a breathing machine,
and I took his hand,
and I give him a kiss
on the forehead,
and I said, "Come on, bud,
for Grandma."
And he coded.
We went in...
hugged him, kissed him...
I had to leave.
We didn't know
what had happened.
Nobody concluded that,
you know,
a person had done this.
We just didn't know
what had happened.
Just... it's pretty unfair,
I guess...
that somebody
could do that to him.
Garbus: How often
do you come here?
I used to come
every single day.
Now I come up
usually once a week,
till it gets nice weather,
and then I come up
and have coffee with him
in the morning,
just thinking
and drinking my coffee.
Oh, it's just like
it happened yesterday, and...
( deep sigh )
Every year, too,
the boys bring up,
like, a new soccer ball,
and they all sign it,
his classmates,
and they bring that up
and put it up there.
Garrett stayed with us a lot.
We know so much.
I miss Garrett.
It kills me.
I felt that I wasn't going
to be the father to him,
but try to be
the best uncle I can be.
The last Tuesday
that he was alive--
I always would go up,
see him before he'd go to sleep,
give him a kiss.
Well, my kids and Garrett
were cuddled right up.
I was gonna grab my phone,
take a picture. I never did.
We weren't thinking
it's the last time
that you're gonna
see him alive.
Sure, sure.
But I've still got
the memories.
You can't ever
take that away.
Boy: Show off.
( indistinct voices
in home video )
Boy: Why can't you
do that over there?
'Cause that road's,
like, wider.
( spectators cheering )
Murray: I have
a younger brother,
he was a senior in high school,
and I was helping coach
his varsity soccer game.
It was senior night,
so my parents were there.
And it was inclement weather;
it was rain off and on.
I checked my phone
near the end of the game,
and I had a voicemail
and a missed call from work.
( phone ringing )
Murray: Hi, you've
reached Mark Murray.
I can't answer
your call right now.
Please leave me
a detailed message,
and I'll get back to you.
Police dispatch:
Hi, Mark, it's Robin.
Looking for you
or the chief to call me back.
Murray: Left immediately
and got there as fast
as I could.
Obviously it's-it's
immediately suspicious,
so there's a lot of questions
in your mind, like, why does--
a 12-year-old just--
just doesn't die.
We had-- the state police
were called immediately.
Notifications were made.
We had no idea what we had.
They knew somebody
had jumped out that window
before Garrett died.
They were sure somebody
exited that window.
Murray: The scene was handled
as a potential crime scene,
so there were a lot of things
already in play.
I remember a lot of
other members
of the state police
had responded.
Harris: It wasn't
until later that evening
we had went downstairs,
I realized the area was
taped off with caution tape
and there was cops there.
And I was, like,
"Andrew, that's where
we heard the noise,
so maybe we should
tell somebody."
And that's when we figured out
it was actually a murder.
Heggelke: Hey, is the chief in?
This is Scott Heggelke,
lieutenant with
the state police.
Tischler: Yeah.
I think we were
just all in shock,
and... and, uh, didn't know
how to take it.
And I believe it was
three or four hours later
that I, I had called
my girlfriend and I said,
"I'm gonna stay with Tandy
and assist her
through this difficult time."
Murray: Overnight
there came to be
Gary Snell
from the state police
had stopped on his way home
'cause he resides in the
Parishville community as well.
It's a tightknit community.
I think he had stopped
at the family's house.
They had their suspicions.
They said, "The only person"--
they can't think of anyone
who would want to hurt
Garrett, number one.
There was some things
about Tandy's ex-boyfriend,
Nick Hillary,
that really concerned them,
and so they shared
those concerns with him.
Hundred percent,
Hillary is responsible
for Garrett's death.
The day I die,
I will go to my grave,
a hundred percent,
Hillary was the killer.
Garrett didn't like him.
Those two butted heads.
I know Garrett
had difficulties in school,
but there's more to life
during the week
than go to school, come home,
be in your room, no TV,
no outside play.
Bull crap. I think
that's excessive discipline.
Recorded voice: Tuesday,
October 25th, 2011.
The time, 6:44 a.m.
Potsdam Police,
Dispatcher Robar.
Hi, good morning.
This is Janie Hobbes
calling from the Potsdam
Middle School.
Robar: Hello.
Hi. We had a student
pass away last night,
6th grade student.
We're, um, wondering
if you could--
someone on the PD could
possibly get messages
to the crossing guards,
to at least let them know
that that has happened,
keep an extra close eye
on the children, uh,
crossing this morning?
Man: I'm just calling--
I just keep getting
all these tip calls,
and I'm not sure
what to tell the viewers
about something
on Market Street there.
Police dispatch: Yeah,
I don't-- I don't have
any information
that I can give out.
Murray: Dan, what's up?
Manor: Marky...
Radio male: This is news from
North Country Public Radio.
Radio female: There's
not much more to tell yet
about the death
of a 12-year-old boy
in Potsdam Monday.
Rumors that his death was
the result of an assault
have circulated,
but this morning
a spokesman at the Potsdam
Police Department
could neither confirm
nor deny those reports.
The department plans
a press conference at ten.
Police dispatch:
Potsdam Police,
Dispatcher Robar.
Male: Is there something
serious going on?
Robar: There
is, but I'm not releasing
anything at this point.
Eckert: There have been
theories that he had been
horsing around
with some friends,
that some friends were
at the house with him,
and that this resulted
in his death.
There had been another theory
that's a step beyond that,
said that this might've
been some kind of--
where they were playing
a game called "knockout,"
I think it was,
and this could've ended up with,
you know, an accidental death.
Autoerotic asphyxiation,
someone had said at one point,
because they said there had--
and if you look at the list
of evidence that was found,
there was a bra on the floor.
And what ended up happening,
we learned,
is that all of those things
are being pushed aside
and that they did have
one person that they
were interested in,
and they thought that it was
the most feasible, uh, suspect
and/or person of interest
in Nick Hillary,
so all the other theories
were pushed aside.
Murray: The next morning,
the local radio station,
the commentator reported
that there was basically a case
of, you know, peer-on-peer
violence that resulted
in his death,
like, a bull-- almost like
a bullying situation.
And that's how many things
were out there
as far as these rumors
and just wild facts
that were either untrue
or just misreported.
Hey Pat, it's Mark.
Brady: Hi, Mark.
Brady: Very good.
...and whoever else
was with your son...
Murray: Basically just
officially notified her
that this was looking
like a homicide,
and just gathered as much
information that we could.
I know that I,
I sat and took notes
while she answered
all the questions
we could think of.
Tischler: And...
( Tandy Cyrus
answers indistinctly )
Jones: They asked if Tandy
would come down, and I said,
"You want me to come with you?"
"Absolutely." I asked them
if they had any problems
with me coming down.
"Absolutely not."
So I went down with Tandy
that morning.
Murray: She wanted that,
and that was accommodated.
To do it over again, probably
would've done it differently,
but it definitely didn't
affect the investigation,
in my opinion.
Tischler: Um...
Murray: Later in the night,
after the murder,
I remember being back
at the station,
and, uh, my chief, Ed Tischler,
poked his head in my office
and said we need
to get ahold of,
um, Tandy's ex-boyfriend,
uh, Nick Hillary.
Hillary: Hello?
Murray: Hello, is
Mr. Hillary there, please?
Mr. Hillary speaking.
Murray: Mark Murray of
the Potsdam Police Department.
How are you, sir?
Hillary: I'm doing well,
and you?
Murray: Not too bad.
I knew who he was
at that point in time,
but I didn't
know him personally.
He was the soccer coach
for Clarkson University,
for the varsity men's team.
Hillary: As a coach, you know,
everybody knew who I was.
Wherever you go,
people would identify--
people would say,
"Hey, Coach, what's going on?
How's the season?
What do you expect?"
You know, small talks
and stuff like that.
You know,
there's an old phrase
that everybody
likes a winner.
Nobody likes a loser.
So, you know, when I was
on the winning side,
it was unbelievable.
( spectators cheer )
( indistinct audio )
Hillary: I was very successful
as a soccer player
at the collegiate level.
And I think
those accomplishments,
I will always be
forever grateful to
the guys who I've played with,
the guys who have laid
the foundation before myself.
Tafari: Well, I first
met Nick back in 1996.
I was a senior
in high school, and he
came to Brooklyn
and started talking to me
about St. Lawrence.
Hillary: As far as
my soccer journey,
St. Lawrence was it.
Tafari: We lived
in a house called
the "House of Brotherhood,"
about five of us Jamaicans.
It was known as a soccer house.
Fairlie: You know,
everyone knew who they were
because it was a bunch of
really good Jamaican guys
from the City
up in Canton, New York,
like, just beating everybody up
on the soccer field.
I think he lost two games
or three games
his entire four years there.
They won
the national championship.
Obviously, he got hired
at Clarkson
because he was
familiar with the area,
he was familiar
with the recruiting,
familiar with the teams
you'd be playing,
his outstanding history
in the area.
So, yeah, in the small
soccer community that was
Potsdam and Canton,
yeah, they knew who he was.
Hillary: You know,
I, I met Tandy in 2010.
I would normally
hang out with the coaches
from the college,
you know, after work
or after a game.
I'll sit at the bar
where she was a bartender.
She would admire
what I was doing,
and she would ask questions.
And she played soccer,
so she understood
you know, the language
and what I was doing.
So that's how my meeting
of Tandy all came about,
was during that time period.
There was a little bit
of mixed opinions, I guess,
gossip, small town, "I can't
believe they're dating"
or "that's weird."
Hillary: I think
one of the key reasons
why we became so found
of each other so quickly
was because
she was very open-minded,
she was very caring.
She's a mother of two.
At the time, I had three.
( child laughing )
Hillary: We found a house
that was big enough,
and that's how we end up
moving in together.
( chatter )
Hillary: What do you have to
say to the people, Mrs. Cyrus?
- Don't make me talk. ( laughs )
- What?
Is that what
you have to say
to the people?
Knock it off.
Come on, say something
to the people.
Hello, people.
( Tandy speaking )
Hillary: And obviously, I would
not like that for my child,
and I don't think it was fair
for her and her son
to have to experience that.
And I think that was
one of the root cause
as to why we made
the decision that, you know,
it would be best
if she has her own abode,
and I have my own abode.
( Tischler, Tandy speaking )
They talked about
going their separate ways,
is what she had told me.
And I said,
"Well, why don't you start
looking for your own place?
I know some people
that own apartments."
So I gave a call and they said,
"Yeah, we got a place
at 100 Market Street."
I looked at it
as the convenience of,
not being close to me;
it was the convenience
for the boys.
I guess I always
put the boys first.
Here's an opportunity for them
to start a new life.
As far as I knew,
that her and Nick
were not seeing each other,
but I was enlightened
that, you know,
they were kind of hanging out
once in a while, occasionally.
Hillary: Obviously,
it's a small community,
so now everybody would be
saying, "Okay, all right,
so she's living
with her two sons
and he's living
with his daughter,"
that would have taken
the pressure off the kids.
I mean, no one
would have to know
that we have
a relationship going.
But, you know, with every
separation comes reassessment,
and we figured that
in the best interests
of the kids and everyone,
you know, we'll just be friends.
And that's how
it actually ended.
He was the last--
her ex-boyfriend, and there
were issues about their breakup
that specifically were cited
to be about Garrett.
And I guess that's when--
your suspicion starts
building at that point.
Murray (on phone): Yes?
Apartment E6.
Murray: E6? Sure.
Sat on the couch
across from Nick,
looks like he was
freshly showered,
wearing socks, sandals,
like, some athletic pants
and a long-sleeved shirt.
Ian Fairlie, his assistant
coach, went outside--
there's a porch
with all windows...
We weren't there very long--
five, ten minutes.
That was the first time
I learned that
he had passed that night
when the cops came
to my apartment
and told me that
he had passed away.
We were sitting
on his outdoor porch,
and that's when he said
Garrett had died.
There was just silence,
neither of us spoke for a while.
It was just kind of sinking in,
like, "Whoa."
And that was just
a very numbing feeling,
knowing that, you know,
it's not like he was sick.
And to have learned
that he just passed away--
and there was no reasons given
or anything like that--
yeah, I mean...
I was at a loss for words.
And I frantically
started figuring out,
you know, reaching out to Tandy,
reaching out
to the family members,
trying to find out
what was going on.
So I was making phone calls.
Tafari: Nick called me
late that night.
The sound in his voice,
it was weird.
You know, he just sounded
down and depressed.
And, you know, he told me,
you know, Garrett died.
And then he told me, you know,
the cops came and told him.
And right there,
that was when...
( laughs ) you know,
the lawyer in me kicked off,
and I thought
there was something
very strange about that.
I would not say it's normal
to give an ex
a death notification.
I reached out to Tandy,
and I never
heard back from Tandy.
Recorded voice: To replay
this message, press 4.
( continues, inaudible)
Recorded voice: End of message.
To erase this message press 7.
No doubt in my mind
he did it.
And I don't base that
strictly on...
wanting to say it's him.
I base it on the knowledge
of many of the guys
I work with in law enforcement
that investigated this
and put 20-hours-plus a day
into trying to find
the right person
to put to this.
And each one of 'em told me,
"Nick's the guy."
Recorded voice:
The time: 11:43 a.m.
( phone line ringing )
- Rick Smith: Hi Ed.
- Tischler: Hey Rick,
how's it goin'.
- How you doin'?
- Oh, we're hanging in there.
Do what we can do.
( Tischler, Smith speaking )
Jesse McKinley: Okay, we've got
a dead 12-year-old.
And the first 48 hours
of this are critical.
And we have a killer on the run.
And we have to find out
who did this,
so you can understand
the police's viewpoint.
And yet you do also
have to raise questions
as to why
they chose Nick Hillary,
why he was the guy,
what sort of evidence
they were working with,
what sort of tips
they were working with,
were they following other tips,
were there other suspects,
were there other people that,
as they were focusing
so heavily on Nick,
they could've gotten away?
Female TV reporter:
Neighbors say
they heard loud noises
coming from the apartment
where Phillips was found dead.
We were changing his tire,
and we kept hearing
this ripping noise.
And 30 minutes
after coming inside,
we come to find out
that the police were here.
It was kind of depressing
knowing that maybe
if we stayed down there
five more minutes,
the person
would've been caught.
I do believe whoever
murdered Garrett Phillips
left the scene after 5:20.
I heard maybe Garrett
didn't get along with a few kids
and that it could've been
one of them,
but it was very brief
and nobody mentions it
to this day.
There's not a lot to do
in the town,
so they go to the park,
they hang out,
they do things
they shouldn't be doing.
They get in big groups because
there's nothing else to do.
I don't know where they came up
with the name Nick Hillary.
I don't know if it was because
he was African American,
or if they actually
had a lead on him,
but I think he was
the easiest target.
I think the media
makes it seem that we're racist,
but I don't think
we necessarily are.
There's just
not a lot of African Americans
compared to a city.
Couple things always strike me
about this part of the world.
One is that there's
no easy way to get here.
It is almost impossible
to get here quickly,
which I think for some people
that live here is the appeal.
You know, you have a place
that is removed.
You have a place
that has a great deal
of natural beautiful.
If you like farmland,
this is a nice place to live.
You can pick up a house here
pretty cheap.
For a long time
there were pretty decent jobs.
There was sandstoning
and kind of light manufacturing.
What's happened, however,
in the last few decades,
is that those types of jobs
have dried up,
and a kind of real economic
depression has set in here.
And with some of that
you've had,
for lack of a better word,
more cosmopolitan problems
coming to town.
You've got heroin
in some of the larger towns.
You've got high unemployment
in a lot of these towns.
You've got people
that are struggling.
There's a lot of drugs here.
There have been, in Massena,
had a real issue with heroin.
Ogdensburg had a problem
with crack cocaine.
And then there are people just
cooking meth all over the place,
these little one-stop shops
where people are doing it
in their homes
and things like that.
We talk about the North Country
as being really white
and remote,
but also that Potsdam
is situated in
New York's prison country.
It's a community
and an area that kind of, like,
its lifeblood is corrections.
And we think about
racial dynamics,
how a lot of white people's only
interactions with black people
are when they're in a uniform
as a corrections officer...
inmates of color.
It's just something
to keep in mind.
But there's also four colleges
within 10 miles of here.
So you've got this really
interesting dynamic
where you do have a certain
conservative rural bent to it.
Driving up here, you see
a Confederate flag
here and there.
But then you also have,
you know, college bars,
and college activities,
and more kind of
liberal-seeming functions
going on around you.
See, for me it's like two-fold.
The first experience was when
I was a student at St. Lawrence.
As a student you had the luxury
of the campus community.
Then, once I came back,
after graduating St. Lawrence,
in a faculty-slash-
coaching position
wherein which now you're
mentoring young adults
and preparing them
for the real world,
you start to interact
a lot more with the community.
Jones: Nick and I were friends
prior to Tandy and Nick dating.
I don't want to say
we were close friends.
We were acquaintances.
If we saw each other,
we wouldn't have a problem
saying hi to each other
and what have you.
John-- John Jones,
um... local sheriff guy.
Um... someone who's well-known
in the community as well.
I mean, born and raised here.
Um, he was Tandy's boyfriend
prior to Tandy and I
hanging out.
They were living together
when Tandy and I
was first socializing.
Jones: You know,
there was no doubts
that she got a lot of attention
when she was out there,
and I enjoyed that aspect
of having a woman
that people were like,
"Wow, she's good-looking."
So I enjoyed-- you know,
it didn't bother me.
When Tandy and I started
having real difficulties
toward the end,
I was trying to figure out,
you know, what's goin' on,
what's happening.
And Nick's name
was brought up
a couple times.
And I just happened
to be at the right place
at the right time
to see the two of 'em
drive by one early morning.
And so I felt the need
to find out for myself
if they were dating each other,
then I can move on in my life
and start dating myself.
And so I confronted Nick
at his residence...
Knocked on my door,
which at the moment
I was living here,
at this point in time
I had not separated from Stacia.
So this was, like,
real early in our relationship.
I don't think, I mean,
I wouldn't even classify
my interactions with Tandy
at that time as a relationship.
We were just friends talking.
"Nick, can we be
just men here for a minute,
and just man up and tell me
whether or not you two
are seeing each other?"
And he told me,
"Absolutely not,"
that they weren't
seeing each other,
but that I should talk
to Tandy.
You know, if he knew
that I was dating her,
what he would have done,
you know, kicked my door in,
call me names, you know,
just... real threatening.
Doesn't take someone
of much intelligence
to figure out
that obviously
there's something
going on there.
So I text Tandy soon after
and said, you know,
"This is it."
Grant you, and, I mean,
this is not something that
I'm explicitly proud of.
I was still living here
with the mother of my kids.
I guess word got
to the kids' mom
that I was hanging out
with Tandy.
Jones: Apparently,
I enlightened Stacy
one day to say,
"How's it going?"
and she says, "Good,"
and I said,
"Are you doing okay
with the situation
with Nick and Tandy?"
And she was like,
"What do you mean?"
So Tandy and Stacia
were not cordial.
There's some domestic incidents
that happened in the interim,
one in which Stacia
was arrested for,
for cutting up his clothes
and dropping them off
on the lawn of his apartment.
There was an open case,
Nick had his car keyed,
and he wasn't sure if
it was John Jones that did it,
or if it was Stacia that did it.
And ultimately,
I'm not sure who
keyed his car.
It didn't look very well
on him in the community,
and obviously him
losing his girlfriend
to an African American,
it just was not
playing out right.
So, you know,
that's who John is.
He's right out of a movie.
Nick's dating the sheriff's,
like, ex-girl (laughs).
Oh, that's fun.
And he's not
being quiet about it.
He's not just
letting it happen.
And then once Garrett passed,
it was, like, instantly,
you know, it was, like,
"All right, here we go."
( no audible talking )
The buildup Tuesday night
into Wednesday morning is,
we gotta talk to Nick again,
there's too much stuff here.
We're clearing everybody else
as either alibied
or precluded
for a number of reasons.
We've got to find out what's--
there's more to this
with Nick's involvement.
( no audible talking )
I never thought for a second
that she would...
even... fathom the idea
to want to go along
with such a theory,
knowing who I am.
You spend time with people--
and obviously, we knew
each other for 12 months.
It would be a difference if,
you know,
we lived apart,
saw each other on occasions,
never spent any time
in her environment.
This is a young lady
who has traveled
to different countries with me.
She's been around me 24/7, 365,
and I would hope
that the person that she has
been around that entire time,
even to the point wherein
which we had broken off
the relationship,
we still maintained
civil dialogue.
But, you know, people
can be manipulated.
When she is someone who
is born and raised in the town,
and obviously if
she has to decide with a group
not to be an island
in the situation,
then obviously I could see
why she would want to side
with the law enforcement
up there.
( no audible talking )
The command post knew
that there was a soccer game
going on that night, went to
the game just to observe.
My observations of him directly,
he did have some sort
of injury or something.
He was favoring his right leg.
Lisa Marcoccia:
Officer Murray had put
in his sworn affidavit
to get a search warrant, right,
so it's sworn to,
that he observed Mr. Hillary
with a significant limp.
The day after the murder.
While he was coaching
a soccer game.
And I guess to him, this shows
that he could've jumped out
the window and injured himself.
Tafari: And years later,
we discovered the video.
Hillary is walking very well,
and he beats a bunch
of 19- and 20-year-olds
to the locker room at halftime.
So why would a police officer,
in the middle of a murder case,
only the day after,
make up a story
about a significant limp,
when he knows
that there's none?
There's points in time
where he looks like
he's walking perfectly fine,
and there's points in time
where you wonder
if he's trying to conceal
or he's got a sore leg.
It's significant to me, like,
that looks like he's favoring
his right leg.
It's not like
he had to amputate it.
I was contacted by a lawyer
who basically said that
there was a case that he viewed
as a railroading of a black man
in northern New York.
And the essential idea there
was that this guy had
kind of a spotless record,
he was a military veteran,
he was a member
of the community,
he was a star athlete,
he had a promising career
as a coach,
and that there was
no indication that this guy
would be capable
of this type of crime,
and yet things were
moving forward fairly rapidly.
They ordered me down
to the station
the Wednesday morning.
I get a call from Nick saying,
"The police are at my door."
Right away,
it wasn't alarm bells
as much as, you know,
an explosion that
went off in my brain.
And I knew right then,
right there,
that they were about to frame
Nick Hillary for murder.
You know, as...
a person of color,
oftentimes you're told...
"Don't talk to the police."
Just because.
( no audible talking )
But not having
anything to worry about,
I want to be as
helpful as possible
because this is a young man
that has lived with me,
lived around my kids, definitely
has a part of my history.
He's inside there.
( Murray speaking )
So obviously,
whatever I could do
to help you guys resolve
this situation, I'm on board.
( Snell, Hillary,
and Murray speaking )
Tafari: I think...
a lot of these cops
who were involved
felt as though,
"If Nick could steal
our friend's woman...
then what about ours?"
( all continue )
Obviously, when you're dealing
with the death
of a 12-year-old boy,
we gotta
talk about this stuff.
We can't just throw it
out the window and pretend
it doesn't exist.
All bets are off.
( all continue )
It's not one of those
where people break up
and there's hostility.
You know,
it was never like that.
Quite the opposite, you know?
So it was very surprising to me
to have learned all these...
as to what was going on
with our relationship.
Investigator Peets:
It wasn't like that.
( continues )
...or at least in this area
of the world,
that you wouldn't know that.
And if we're getting
the wrong impression
from these other people,
( Peets continues )
Fairlie: Went down
to the police station.
I actually noticed
Nick's SUV in there,
so I was, like, "All right...
just asking," you know,
"Nick's down here..."
( Investigator Levinson
and Fairlie speaking )
But as far as meeting
girls or anything...
Same questions.
Nick's background,
how I knew Nick,
how he knew Garrett,
how I knew Garrett,
how I knew Tandy, how--
Same questions, just kind of
what I knew
about the relationships.
( Murray, Hillary speaking )
Murray: Okay.
You know that you can, uh...
( interview continues )
See, again, Mark...
It's pretty clear
into the interview
that he is only there
to talk about his students,
he's not gonna answer
any other questions.
I think I asked him,
"What time was practice
that day for ya?"
and he's like, "No comment."
And it just struck me as odd.
( interview continues )
Nick was a former soldier
in his thirties,
he was a teacher,
he was a coach,
he was a graduate
of a very good university.
So you're not dealing
with the Central Park Five
or a bunch of 16-year-olds,
or 13-year-olds,
who you can put words
in their mouth
and try to convince them
that something is what it's not.
( Levinson, Fairlie speaking )
gettin' asked, "How do you
know he didn't do it?"
Well, if he did do it,
then I saw him a minute later
and he was the same person
I've always met, just walked in,
it was like, "Hey,
goin' to the office.
Got this meeting.
You're gonna be
right behind me?"
"Yeah, be right there."
Just every other day.
No big deal.
( interview continues )
So I'm his alibi,
I'm why he can't be there,
'cause he was here at 5:21,
which is something
they grilled me on,
you know, a lot,
throughout the whole process.
( Levinson, Fairlie speaking )
( Peets, Fairlie speaking )
And the police said
they were at the apartment
at 5:24,
and he's hearing footsteps,
you know, he hears people
in the apartment.
So that's right around the time
that Nick's at my place.
I mean, I don't question that.
That's a pretty good--
To have him have a phone call,
the time is good.
But what is
Mark Wentworth hearing?
I mean, this poor guy
has tormented over this
for the last five years into
current day saying, you know,
"Did I hear the blinds
in the wind? Did I hear--"
Is he hearing Sean Hall
pace back and forth
up this rickety hallway
while, you know, we're waiting
for a keyholder to get there?
Harris: Andrew's car was
directly below the window
in the corner of the building.
There's a little divot,
and it goes in--
we are right there
by the Dumpsters
with a great view of the window.
We were downstairs
around 4:50 to 5:20.
Where in this window of time
does this person escape?
It's just remarkable.
How does this happen?
How does this person get
out this window and run off,
and not seen by anyone?
Harris: I think
whoever it was
was terrified that
we weren't gonna leave,
and they did get very lucky
that we did leave
and they were able to escape
without being seen.
The text messages
said we were downstairs
around 4:50 to 5:20.
( Peets and Fairlie speaking )
( Hillary, Murray,
Snell speaking )
Let's put it this way.
( overlapping speech )
Mark. Mark. Mark--
This is not a time thing,
Nick, where--
Hillary: Can you
show me outside, please?
Knowing my right...
that I could walk
out of there,
and being barred
and blocked physically,
you, you leave me one choice,
which is to either
put my hand on you
to ask you to leave,
or bull my way through the door,
which those two options provide
me nothing good in return.
So obviously I have to succumb
to what you guys are doing,
and knowing intentionally
what you're doing...
and just sit there.
( Snell, Hillary, Murray
speaking )
No, I'm not-- I'm not--
( overlapping speech )
Tafari: And then
I receive a call, he's saying,
"They won't let me leave."
I wasn't sure what was going on,
but I knew whatever was going on
could not be legal or good.
( Ames, Hillary speaking )
( Ray Planty,
Hillary speaking )
I guess they were
workin' behind the scenes.
Now that I know a little bit
more about that particular day,
they were working
behind the scenes and...
just trying to keep me there
for the whole time.
I'm serious, just sit.
Hillary: No. I've been
sitting all morning.
- Planty: I understand.
- Hillary: Your name is?
- I'm Ray. Yeah.
- Ray?
( Hillary, Planty speaking )
( Hillary, Planty speaking,
indistinct )
Please allow me
the opportunity.
( clock ticking )
You know, Mani decided
to haul tail from...
New York City
all the way up here
to be of assistance to me
as a friend.
Tafari: So I got in the car,
I started driving.
I called my wife.
I explained to her that
I'm taking a drive upstate.
So she also was
a bit shocked and astonished.
From that moment on, I mean,
there has not been a day
that has passed
that Nick Hillary
has not been discussed
over our morning coffee
or our nighttime
glass of wine.
( laughs )
I mean, it's been--
When it consumes you,
it's in for a penny,
in for a pound.
It's nothing that we planned on
getting this much involved in,
but we had to act
and we had to move
in order to help Nick.
I mean, I wanted
to fight injustice.
I was working in a bank
right after St. Lawrence, and,
you know, you always
talk to people,
you always give your views
on things.
And after a while it's like,
you can talk all you want,
but why don't you
try to change things?
Being a lawyer I thought was
the best way to make a change.
Once he invokes his rights
and we call an attorney
for him,
she came and sat with him
inside our station.
I wrote a search warrant.
A judge issued
the search warrant,
and we lawfully executed
the search warrant,
the New York State FIU;
it's all on video in my office.
( Murray speaking
on in-station video )
The decision was made
that there's potentially
probative evidence
on his body, of his person,
because we know the person
that killed Garrett Phillips
jumped out that window
and would potentially
have either an injury
that we can document
or a marking that we would be
able to help link to the crime,
or something like that.
( indistinct chatter )
( Hillary, officer,
indistinct )
( camera shutter clicking )
Ah, there it is.
The ankle injury.
At first he tells me
he has no ankle injury,
there's no issue.
Then he has one,
and then he comes up
with an excuse
that he was moving furnitures
around his apartment.
Last time I sprained my ankle
or lacerated a part of my body
with a piece of furniture,
I remember where
that piece of furniture is.
I'm, like,
"It was the goddamn desk"
or "It was the table behind me,"
or-- "What was it?
What kind of furniture?"
"Like I said,
it was furnitures."
"Do you want to elaborate
at all on that? Was it a bed?"
I'll ask him to this day.
If I ran into Nick I'd say,
"Nick what kind
of furniture was it?"
( camera shutter clicks )
Male, over P.A.:
All right, drop.
Murray: I don't normally
do strip-search.
This was New York State FIU,
who normally do searches
of people's persons,
and this was normal procedure.
Try to document injuries
pursuant to the murder
of a 12-year-old boy.
There were other people that
were photographed nude as well,
and I pointed that out
in the deposition. But...
- Woman: Who else was
photographed nude?
- Garrett Phillips was.
Tafari: When I got
to St. Lawrence County,
the news that I started getting
was just totally unbelievable.
All they wanted him to do
is to flinch,
to refuse
to take his clothes off,
because then he would've
gotten a real beatdown
and been charged
with resisting arrest.
So in that... spot,
in that position,
he handled it
as best as he could.
He took his clothes off.
Never arrested me,
and then told me I could leave,
in a hazmat suit,
eight hours later.
( indistinct chatter )
Hillary: I mean,
I literally came out
of the police station
as if my mom
had just given birth
to me as an adult.
Tafari: You don't strip-search
someone totally naked for--
ever, for anything.
I mean, unless
you have a rape victim saying,
"I bit his penis."
I mean, there--
What really would be the use?
If you're getting his DNA,
you could get his DNA.
This is to
break him down mentally,
to let him know
when he walked in
that "You're done."
Like, "Your life
will never be the same.
We're gonna get you.
This is what we can do to you.
And there's nothing
that you can do about it."
Once he got here, I mean,
his knowledge base for being
in this field kicked in,
and that's pretty much
when I realized
what their plan is,
which was to ostracize me
within the community quickly,
blame me for what had taken
place without knowing the facts,
and then... bury me.
( Hillary sighs )
It's just one of those
situations wherein which,
you know-- I mean, even now
it's hard to put words to.
McKinley: Early on,
because law enforcement
seemed convinced,
because people in the community
seemed convinced,
because members
of the family seemed convinced,
there may have been a rush
towards focusing so singly
on Nick Hillary.
That's what might keep you up
at night a little bit, is that,
if he didn't do it,
then who did?
And where did he go,
or she go,
um, while they were
focusing on Nick?
They never thought
for a minute
that the situation...
was over with
after that initial run-in.
MAN: This is the People
of the State of New York
against Nicholas Hillary.
LAWYER: Do you recall entering
the Potsdam High school
parking lot?
He just put himself in that
parking lot at that time.
We were able to compile a case.
NICK HILLARY: The one thing
that I know deep inside...
I have nothing to hide.
The police focused almost
exclusively on Nick Hillary.
WOMAN: Nick's case is about
our justice system as a whole.
There's absolutely no checks
on prosecutors.
This must happen
more than we know.
You kept hearing mixed stories.
They have a great case.
They had nothing.
I pray that the correct decision
will come down.
Mr. Hillary, please rise.