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Grand jury to hear testimony in Garrett Phillips case Monday

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CANTON — A St. Lawrence County grand jury will hear testimony Monday in a two-year investigation into the death of Garrett J. Phillips, a 12-year-old Potsdam boy found murdered in his home.

Garrett was found unconscious Oct. 24, 2011, at North Country Manor Apartments, 100 Market St., after neighbors heard screams and cries for help. He was pronounced dead that evening at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam.

Patricia L. Phillips, Garrett’s paternal grandmother, said she was subpoenaed along with Garrett’s uncle Brian A. Phillips, who started the Justice for Garrett reward fund. Mr. Phillips’s daughter, Kayla R. Phillips, 15, is expected to be subpoenaed later this week.

“She was the last one that he was seen with on the school parking lot when he left to go home,” Mrs. Phillips said. “We got subpoenaed on Sunday. We just got notified that she will be getting hers.”

Mr. Phillips said he believes there is enough evidence to present to a grand jury. “I would hope that the evidence they present would hopefully have an indictment at the end,” he said. “It would be one step closer for getting justice for Garrett. I credit law enforcement, elected officials and anyone who put time into this case.”

Garrett’s mother, Tandy L. Cyrus, who also was subpoenaed, declined comment.

Mrs. Phillips hopes that a grand jury indictment will be the next, long awaited step in finding closure in her grandson’s death.

“I am hoping that we will get our justice,” she said. “I have a lot of mixed feelings here, but I think we are on the right track. I think they’ve got a lot of information. I think we have a lot in our favor. I am just hoping that it keeps going in our favor.”

Mrs. Phillips said she heard from St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain that about 20 others are expected to testify. These include Potsdam village police officers and the teenage daughter of Oral “Nick” Hillary, the Clarkson University men’s soccer coach who was a person of interest in the boy’s death.

Mr. Hillary filed state Supreme Court action in Canton in September 2012, claiming police detained him illegally and damaged his reputation by making statements implicating him in the death. Mrs. Phillips said the family learned that Mr. Hillary’s daughter is alleged to have been his alibi at the time of Garrett’s death.

Ms. Rain said she could not talk about potential grand jury action. Nor would she confirm or deny that subpoenas had been issued. “I can only tell you, generally speaking, once an indictment is filed I can talk about the who, what, when and where of the case,” she said.

Mrs. Phillips acknowledges that not even a conviction will bring the boy back. “It’s hard,” she said. “It’s not going to make us any better. We have lost something precious to us. But at least it will get the closure, so it’s going to make us feel good when we know the person who did this gets convicted of it.”

Ms. Rain said Thursday that she has been working on the case steadily since Jan. 2, keeping the family apprised of its progress. She met recently with the Mutual Assistance Committee of the District Attorneys Association of New York to seek help in the case “with resources that can supplement and enhance the prosecution.”

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