FORT EDWARD -- Matthew Slocum’s girlfriend told a Washington County jury Thursday she saw Slocum shoot his stepbrother last July 13 before he set their home on fire and they fled.
A tearful Loretta Colegrove said she awoke in the family’s White Creek home between 2:30 and 3 a.m. that day to see Slocum standing over Joshua O’Brien pointing a gun at him. O’Brien was sleeping in the family’s living room at the time.
She said O’Brien raised an arm toward Slocum, who then fired the gun. Slocum then grabbed a number of guns, his mother’s purse and other items, and doused the home in gasoline before setting it ablaze, Colegrove testified.
Colegrove said she thought about grabbing the couple’s infant son and fleeing from a window when she saw the shooting, but Slocum told her to “grab your (things)” and he grabbed numerous guns before they packed up a car and fled the home.
Colegrove, the prosecution’s star witness in the triple murder case against Slocum, spent part of Thursday morning and all of the afternoon on the witness stand, much of the time being grilled by defense lawyer Michael Mercure.
She was emotional and in tears numerous times early in her testimony, but as the afternoon went on remained calm and collected.
Colegrove, who the defense has sought to blame for the killings, spent hours explaining her actions after the killings, when she and Slocum were on the run for nearly 18 hours.
She testified she did what Slocum told her to do because he was “very emotionally, mentally and physically abusive to me.”
“He’d hurt me,” she said.
The jury also saw videos of the couple’s visits to a pawn shop in Springfield, Mass., and a grocery store in Keene, N.H., after the killings, and Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright asked Colegrove why she didn’t try to run from Slocum.
“The last time I tried to run from Matt he chased me down and grabbed me by the hair,” she said, seeming near tears.
Fleeing from home
Colegrove said Slocum was apologetic as they drove to Massachusetts and then to New Hampshire, where they were arrested later the day of the shootings after they hid the car in which they fled and went to Slocum’s uncle’s home.
“He kept apologizing to me, telling me that he loved me and he was sorry for ruining mine and Raymond’s lives,” Colegrove said.
Police said O’Brien was shot after Slocum’s mother and stepfather were shot in their bedroom, but Colegrove did not testify about witnessing the two other shootings.
The defense has blamed Colegrove for the killings, but the prosecution has treated her as a witness and she has not been charged.
Lead defense counsel Michael Mercure cross-examined her for much of the afternoon, and the day’s proceedings ended with Colegrove still on the witness stand.
Mercure said in his opening argument that Slocum’s mother and stepfather planned to kick Colegrove out of the home because of drug and alcohol use. She admitted using marijuana and prescription painkillers, but said Lisa Harrington was not trying to kick her out as the defense contends.
The family had been trying to get Colegrove and Slocum an apartment, she acknowledged.
The first hours of Mercure’s cross-examination focused in part on inconsistencies in the versions of events Colegrove gave police.
In her first interview with police July 13, she did not tell of witnessing the shooting of O’Brien, saying she slept through the shootings and “kind of figured” Slocum killed the trio.
But the next day she gave a written statement to Washington County sheriff’s officers in which she is quoted as saying she witnessed the shooting of O’Brien.
Colegrove acknowledged the differing versions, but did not explain why she gave two accounts.
Mercure also asked Colegrove why she didn’t try to flee from Slocum when she had the opportunity to after the killings.
She said “Matt was present with me the entire time” and had their infant son, but Mercure showed she had numerous opportunities to seek help and alert people to the deaths at the White Creek home.
He also pointed out that she admitted handling guns stolen from the Harrington home that the couple ditched in woods of western Massachusetts when Slocum learned he couldn’t sell them, and questioned why Colegrove didn’t use them to get out of the situation.
“You could have grabbed one of those guns and turned it on Matt,” Mercure said.
She said she did not know how to handle the weapons, a statement that Mercure questioned.
The second day of testimony in Slocum’s case began Thursday with a forensic pathologist on the witness stand.
The doctor, Dr. Michael Sikirica, testified that the three victims of last summer’s triple homicide in White Creek died from gunshot wounds and not the fire that destroyed their home,
Sikirica performed autopsies on the three victims, and said all three died of shotgun wounds to the head that were inflicted as they were lying down.
His testimony began with a description of victims Lisa Harrington and Dan Harrington, who he said were badly burned and each had a single gunshot wound to their faces.
“By the X-rays I was able to determine it was due to a shotgun,” the doctor testified of the autopsy on Lisa Harrington.
He said both Harringtons were lying on their backs in bed when they were shot by a person who was standing near her feet.
Evidence showed she “was not breathing at the time of the fire,” Sikirica testified.
“The fire occurred after death. There was no evidence of smoke or sooty material in the airways, there was no carbon monoxide in the blood,” the doctor said.
The cause of death for all three was skull fractures and brain injuries from shotgun blasts, he said.
The jury was also shown close-up pictures of the charred bodies of the victims as Sikirica testified. Several loved ones of the victims were noticeably upset during the graphic testimony, with some walking out of the courtroom.
Slocum stared straight ahead, and did not look toward Sikirica as the doctor testified about the injuries.
Slocum, 24, of White Creek, faces three charges of second-degree murder, a count of first-degree arson and seven lesser counts in the July 13 killings of his mother, Lisa Harrington, 44, her husband, Dan Harrington, 41, and the 24-year-old O’Brien, who was Dan Harrington’s son.
Testimony is to continue at 9:30 a.m. Friday.