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Oct 14, 2015 5:52 PM

Credibility of lead witness in Wolusky trial questioned


DOVER - Testimony from a former cellmate of an accused killer appears to contradict earlier statements made by an alleged accomplice in the Aaron Wilkinson murder trial.

Erik DeStefano, who was arrested in Massachusetts on Tuesday for failing to appear under a court subpoena, took the stand as a witness for Tristan Wolusky's defense.

DeStefano said admitted killer Michael Tatum, Wolusky's co-defendant, shared details with him about the Wilkinson murder while the two were cellmates for a short period of time at the Strafford County Jail.

"He told me that they were going to Aaron’s house to rob him for weed and cash," DeStefano told the court.

DeStefano, who was cellmates with Wolusky for several months after living with Tatum, was allowed to testify by the judge in order to allow the jury to determine whether or not Tatum's previous testimony was credible.

According to DeStefano, Tatum spoke to him briefly about Wolusky's involvement in the murder.

"He told me that Tristan jumped off Aaron’s back," DeStefano said; adding that Tatum made it seem like it was an effort to 'get out of the way' of knives in the hands of Tatum and a machete held by Zachary Pinette.

Tatum and Pinette pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and stabbing Wilkinson. The two also testified against Wolusky as lead witnesses for the state.

Tatum testified he witnessed Wolusky stab Wilkinson, while Pinette said he saw Wolusky holding a knife but couldn't remember if he actually stabbed Wilkinson.

"Did he say whether Tristan stabbed him, at any point?" the defense asked DeStefano regarding his exchange with Tatum. "No," he responded.

The graphic murder scene was also described in detail by DeStefano.

“Wrestle with [Aaron], got him down onto the ground onto his stomach," DeStefano said. "At that point, while they were wrestling on the ground, that kid Zach started striking – you know, chopping – Aaron’s legs with the machete.”

While under oath during testimony two weeks ago, Tatum testified that he never spoke about the Wilkinson killing with anybody in prison.

Citing Tatum's apparent lies on the witness stand, defense attorney Wade Harwood finished the day by asking Judge Steven Houran to dismiss all charges. But Judge Houran said it would be up to the jury to determine whether or not Tatum's testimony was credible beyond a reasonable doubt.

Questioned by attorneys, DeStefano said Wolusky never told him what to say during testimony - and that he came to court to 'straighten out the facts.'

“It’s not right if someone’s getting a murder bid and they didn’t do the murder," DeStefano said.

Wolusky, 19, denied stabbing Wilkinson during previous testimony. He faces first- and second-degree murder charges.

Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at Strafford County Court in Dover.


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