POTSDAM -- College soccer coach Oral Nicholas “Nick” Hillary is in the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility on $75,000 cash bail following an indictment on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips two and a half years ago.
There has been little news on the progress of the investigation since the boy's death on Oct. 24, 2011, and word this week that District Attorney Mary Rain, after consultation with investigators and colleagues around the state, was seeking a grand jury indictment in the case came as a surprise to the community.
Garrett, well-liked by fellow students at A.A. Kingston Middle School, was found unconscious that October afternoon in the Market Street apartment he and his mother shared. He was found by police, who were called after neighbors heard a loud noise and moaning coming from the apartment.
Garrett was taken by the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, but efforts there to save him were unsuccessful. An autopsy showed he had been suffocated and strangled.
On Thursday, a grand jury agreed on an indictment, the county court judge signed an arrest warrant, and the suspect was arrested.
Without an attorney present, a not-guilty plea was entered for Hillary by St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome Richards, according to investigators.
He was held overnight in the county correctional facility without bail until a 10 a.m. arraignment on Friday, where he was represented by attorney Christopher Renfroe of Renfroe, Driscoll & Foster, LLP., of Forest Hills, Queens.
Hillary is charged with one count of murder in the second degree. He was sent to the correctional facility on $75,000 cash bail or $150,000 bail bond, where he awaits further court action.