Petition calling for leads in Gouverneur, Potsdam murder cases to be forwarded to federal, state officials
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
POTSDAM -- A Black Lives Matter activist from Potsdam is circulating an online petition calling for all leads in two murder cases be forwarded to federal, state and local law enforcement.
Jennifer Baxtron started the petition on change.org titled “Seeking Truth And Justice In St Lawrence County For Garrett Phillips, Treyanna Summerville.”As of noon Thursday, July 9, over 1,500 people had signed the petition with a goal of 2,500 signatures.
Baxtron calls for all leads in the murders of Garrett Phillips and Treyanna Summerville to be forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albany office, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua.
She held organize two Black Lives Matter rallies in Potsdam in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. She also helped organize a recent rally in Gouverneur to remember Summerville, and a subsequent demonstration in front of St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services calling for justice for the teenage murder victim.
Summerville, 18, was murdered in Gouverneur last month. Her relatives and local activists say police and Child Protective Services received numerous reports of trouble in the home that went unheeded. A 13-year-old has been charged with the murder. At a recent BLM rally in Gouverneur to honor Summerville’s memory, her relatives said the person who has been arrested is the victim’s sister. Relatives say she is innocent and the real killer remains at large.
Phillips, 12, was murdered in October 2011 in a case that drew national media attention. Arrested and charged with the murder was Oral “Nick” Hillary, who was acquitted after a bench trial in the fall of 2016. Hillary is a former paramour of the victim’s mother.
Soon former DA Mary Rain left office in 2017, she was suspended from practicing law. One of several reasons cited in the June 2018 ruling on her suspension was that she withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from Hillary’s defense team.
Hillary’s prosecution by Rain is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit he has filed in federal court.
After Hillary was acquitted, Rain held a news conference and announced there would be no further investigation into Phillips’s death, as she believed Hillary is the murderer. St. Lawrence County’s current DA, Gary Pasqua, has said he still considers the case unsolved and will look into fresh leads on the homicide.