POTSDAM -- Recently acquitted Nick Hillary tells NBC News’ Dennis Murphy, “I’m one hundred percent innocent” in an in-depth interview about the murder of Garrett Phillips, the son of Hillary’s ex-girlfriend, which airs Friday in a two-hour special, “Dateline NBC: The Accused,” at 9 p.m.
For those without cable, the episode will be available to stream on nbc.com starting Saturday.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled that Hillary was not guilty of murdering Phillips.
In 2011, 12 year-old Phillips was found in physical distress in his home in Potsdam.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Hillary knew Phillips from a previous relationship he had with Tandy Cyrus Collins, Phillips’ mother. A preview of the interview with Hillary is at http://bit.ly/2duDeAD.
Collins told Murphy that she believed Hillary was guilty, saying “for whatever reason he did not like my son. He was a problem for him. He was in the way.” A preview of the interview with Collins is at http://bit.ly/2cZ3nTi.
The two-hour episode features an interview with the attorney for the Potsdam police, Thomas Mortati, who did a crucial deposition with Nick Hillary. “Dateline NBC: The Accused” also features interviews with key players in the case, including interim Potsdam Police Chief Mark Murray, defense attorneys Norman Siegel and Earl S. Ward, District Attorney Mary Rain, witnesses Sean and Marissa Hall, and New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley. Hillary answered deposition questions under oath from Mortati as part of the civil case, initially in April 2012 and later in January 2014. The 6-plus hour 2014 deposition was videotaped by Mortati. It was this questioning and Hillary's answers which became the foundation of the murder case against him, the release said.
As a central piece of evidence at the trial, prosecutor Bill Fitzpatrick showed over two hours of Mortati's video deposition of Hillary.
St. Lawrence County DA Mary Rain described the video deposition as "essential to the prosecution case," and Fitzpatrick called it "The gift that keeps on giving” in opening arguments. Potsdam Police Chief Mark Murray described it as "A turning point in the investigation.”
“I never imagined that a civil case would put me in the middle of a murder investigation, but as I uncovered more information, it became my mission that the best defense of the Potsdam Police Department in the civil case was to prove Hillary guilty of murder and help bring Justice for Garrett,” said Mortati. “Unfortunately, in a bench trial, Hillary was acquitted yesterday by Judge Felix J. Catena, who ruled prosecutors had not proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
During the deposition, Hillary was believed by some to have made several false and inconsistent statements. Most importantly, according to the law firm’s promotion of the NBC TV special, Hillary placed himself in a car seen on security camera footage at Potsdam High School following Garrett out of the parking lot minutes before his death. Given the low quality of the footage, police had been unable to verify whose car it was and who was driving it until Hillary admitted under oath to Mortati that it was him. Hillary's car is seen on video leaving the school parking lot in the same direction as Phillips, who is seen skating by on his rip stick skateboard. Yet Hillary claimed under oath that he went straight home to his apartment from the school, in the opposite direction of where his car turned.
The Dateline program will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Friday.
Meanwhile, the ABC-tv newsmagazine show “20/20” is expected to also feature extensive coverage of the Hillary trial Friday at 10 p.m.
The show can be viewed locally on WWTI, channel 50, which is seen on cable channel 13 in the Potsdam-Canton area.