Oct 2, 2015 11:30 AM
Murder trial of Tristan Wolusky ends 2nd week of testimony
DOVER - The murder trial of Tristan Wolusky has entered its second week and jurors have heard gruesome testimony about the death of Aaron Wilkinson - two testimonies described by two admitted murderers.
They cried along with Wilkinson's family members and friends as Zachary Pinette talked Thursday afternoon about the brutal slaying on June 21, 2014, where he used a machete to hit Wilkinson in the legs - and according to co-conspirator Michael Tatum - the skull.
This is a look back at what has happened so far in the first-degree murder trial. The state alleges Wolusky participated in the killing, which happened during the course of a robbery gone wrong.
Jurors on Sept. 17 viewed the Madbury property where 18-year-old Wilkinson was killed in his own driveway.
Prior to their visit, Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley told them what to expect.
"Outside Aaron's home is where the defendant, Mr. Wolusky, and his two accomplices, Michael Tatum and Zachary Pinette, violently attacked and killed Aaron," Hinckley said. "It was an attack motivated by a desire by all three men, Mr. Wolusky, Mr. Tatum and Mr. Pinette, to steal from him."
The state argues that Wolusky, 19, of Rochester, and his co-conspirators plotted to rob Wilkinson. They wanted drugs and money from the teen, who was known for dealing, Wolusky told police after his arrest.
During the grisly killing, Wolusky held Wilkinson down, and stabbed him, according to prosecutors. The trio used two knives and a machete during the murder.
To cover up their crime, prior to the attack, Wolusky, Tatum, 22, of Barrington, and Pinette, 20, of Springvale, Maine, superglued their fingers to avoid leaving fingerprints. They took off their shoes to avoid leaving tracks.
Then, after his death, the trio brought Wilkinson's body to Long Swamp Road in Lebanon, Maine, where it was dumped. A woman walking her dog found it the next afternoon.
While in Madbury, jurors were asked to pay special attention to an area of the driveway, where the murder happened. They were also asked to take note of a second-story window, and the porch where one of the men was hiding as Wolusky lured Wilkinson outside.
During the first day of the trial, on Sept. 22, prosecutor Stacey Kaelin held up the murder weapons, pointed to the defendant, and said he masterminded the plan to rob a Madbury teen for drugs and money last year.
Kaelin showed the jurors a diagram of stab wounds Wilkinson suffered during his killing. He was stabbed 13 times in the back, three times to the back of the skull, and in the jugular. There were a total of 22 stab wounds on his corpse.
Kaelin said Wilkinson was "an easy source of money" to Wolusky. The young men knew each other through playing sports, and Wilkinson dealt Wolusky marijuana.
She added that Wolusky was the only person who knew Wilkinson and the two co-conspirators of the crime, Pinette and Tatum.
Wolusky's private attorneys have a different story. They say it was Pinette and Tatum who turned on Wilkinson when he did not have any stashes of drugs or money. Attorney Mark Sisti claims his client was surprised when Pinette and Tatum began to attack Wilkinson.
"He thought they were going to rob him, and then, all of a sudden, two men with a machete began hacking away," Sisti said.
Sisti says the Attorney General's Office has a weak case against his client. There is no medical or scientific evidence, and no confession, he said.
Sisti warned the jury against believing what Pinette and Tatum tell them, saying they are two weasels who "got off the track." He said they ran to the Attorney General's Office with their stories, which have changed multiple times, to get a plea deal, after the killing.
Both Pinette and Tatum are serving 30 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. They are star witnesses for the state.
"Be very, very careful when a prosecutor's case is based upon the word of an informant, a rat," Sisti said.
That afternoon, jurors were shown a video taken at Wilkinson's home the day after his killing. Large dark red stains of blood, and drag marks, were clearly visible.
THE VICTIM'S FATHER SPEAKS
Wilkinson's father took the witness stand during the second day of testimony last week, saying that on the night of his son's killing, he was woken up at approximately 1:14 a.m. by a light shining into his bedroom. Paul Carroll said he got up and talked to his son.
"I was in a dead sleep, so it took me a second to process what I had seen, and realized someone was probably outside," Carroll said.
He went to the top of his stairway, and called down to Wilkinson, who had been watching television. Wilkinson then spoke his last words to his father from the bottom of the stairs.
"He said that it was Tristan, and that he had some car problems, and that he needed to borrow a flashlight," Carroll said.
Carroll said he knew accused murderer Tristan Wolusky, and went back to bed. He did not hear or see anything else until the next morning. When he went outside at approximately 7:30 a.m., he noticed that his son's skateboarding equipment was out of place, and then saw the blood and drag mark in his dirt driveway.
Carroll tried contacting Wilkinson, and then called police.
SECOND WEEK OF TESTIMONY BEGINS
The Maine medical examiner who was assigned to autopsy Wilkinson's corpse testified Monday.
Dr. Margaret Greenwald said there were four stab wounds to the back of the head. The first went into the base of Wilkinson's tongue. The rest went right through his scalp, and into his brain.
Wilkinson was also stabbed in the lung, kidney and spine.
Greenwald told Kaelin she found evidence that might suggest Wilkinson tried to defend himself as he was thrown to the ground and attacked face-down.
"We look for defensive wounds on the hands or the extremities in general, because they generally occur when a person is trying to protect their face, their chest. So wound number twenty, which you can see up here on the right arm, could be from moving his arm around to protect himself," Greenwald said.
Other wounds found on Wilkinson's legs could have also been from him struggling to save his life.
Greenwald said that Wilkinson "certainly" felt pain during the stabbing, but likely died within minutes of the attack.
SHE DID IT FOR A FRIEND, ALLEGED FEMALE CO-CONSPIRATOR SAYS
A neighbor of Wolusky's testified on Tuesday that she agreed to ask Tatum to change his testimony on Wolusky's behalf because she "was asked to by a friend."
Alexandria Wyant, 21, of Rochester, faces a charge of conspiracy to commit witness tampering, after the state reviewed recorded telephone conversations she had with Wolusky, and eventually Tatum.
The jury heard portions of those telephone conversations. This is what was said as Wyant and Tatum arranged to meet at Strafford County House of Corrections, where he was housed with Wolusky:
AW: Um, can you do weekends or no?
MT: Um, yeah, I could do this Sunday.
AW: Yeah, because I have Sunday off, too.
MT: All right, awesome. Um, what time this Sunday?
AW: Um, whatever time works for you.
MT: All right, uh, does twelve sound good to you?
AW: Yeah, that's fine.
Wyant said she believed Wolusky when he told her it was a third person who "hacked up" Wilkinson. She had known Wolusky for five to six years before his arrest, and met Tatum during a camping trip.
Wyant even asked Wolusky directly about the murder, which was highly publicized.
"You didn't do it, did you?" Wyant asked during one of their many phone conversations.
"No," Wolusky replied.
Even though Wolusky wanted Wyant to see if Tatum was left- or right-handed, and told her to check for a wire, Wyant testified that her friend had a special message for Tatum during their jailhouse meeting.
"Tristan wanted me to tell him, tell Michael, that he missed him and that he was hoping he was doing all right," Wyant said.
ADMITTED MURDERERS TESTIFY
On Wednesday, things heated up when the first of Wolusky's co-conspirators took the witness stand.
Tatum said he helped stab Wilkinson to death after the Madbury teen told him he didn't have a stash of drugs or money.
"I pulled out one of the knives and held it to his throat and told him if he didn't give it up, he'd get hurt," Tatum said about the moments before Wilkinson was killed on June 21, 2014.
Tatum said he, Wolusky and a Maine man named Zachary Pinette went to Wilkinson's house after drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana. They had previously planned to rob Wilkinson, who Tatum purchased pot from on a regular basis, because they believed he had drugs and money on hand.
Tatum described how as Wolusky lured Wilkinson outside, he and Pinette hid under the porch. They crept up on Wolusky and Wilkinson as they headed toward Pinette's car.
Things started to escalate when Pinette got upset about Wolusky and Wilkinson going through his vehicle. He got mad, and slapped the roof, Tatum said.
Wolusky pretended he didn't know who Tatum and Pinette were, Tatum said. When he realized things were not going as planned, he sent Wolusky a text message, trying to bail out.
"I was worried," Tatum told Kaelin, of the Attorney General's office..
Then, an argument broke out, Tatum said, and Wolusky tackled Wilkinson and held him on the ground. Wilkinson jumped up, trying to fight back, but was "taken back down quickly."
Tatum said Wilkinson was able to escape from the trio's grips a second time.
"And I stabbed him," Tatum said.
While Wilkinson was face-down on the ground, he was stabbed in the back, skull and arms with two large knives. Pinette hit him in the legs with a machete, Tatum said.
Tatum said he directly observed Wolusky stabbing Wilkinson, a friend he played sports with, after he went to Pinette's car and popped the trunk.
Kaelin asked Tatum if Wilkinson said anything as he died. He said the beloved teenager made a small yell, and mumbled.
Then, Tatum said, Wilkinson told the trio, "I'm f***ked. I'm sorry. What did I do wrong?"
Wilkinson's parents did not listen to Tatum's testimony about the killing, but other family members and friends in the courtroom cried.
Tatum said that after Wilkinson died, the trio put his body in the trunk, and drove it to Maine, where it was dumped along a rural road. Tatum took Wilkinson's cell phone, broke it, and threw it off a bridge.
Tatum, who is only 22-years-old, will serve 30 years to life in prison, he said. In exchange for a plea deal, he agreed to tell the truth at Wolusky's trial.
"What I did was wrong," Tatum told Kaelin.
COMBATIVE ON CROSS-EXAMINATION
Tatum proved difficult to cross-examine Thursday.
Tatum told Wolusky's attorney, Mark Sisti, that he could not even remember which knife he used during the attack.
"I had one," Tatum said.
"You had at least one?" Sisti asked.
"One," Tatum replied.
"Which one? They're completely different," Sisti asked, holding up the two knives used.
"Yeah, but I'm not going to remember which one exactly that I'm going to have," Tatum said.
"Well, where did you keep it?" Sisti continued.
"In my pocket," Tatum said.
"Which one of these did you keep in your pocket?" Sisti asked.
"I don't remember," Tatum exclaimed.
When Sisti pointed out how different the two large knives used during the killing are, Tatum struck back.
"Yeah, that's like remembering what kind of socks you wore a month ago," he said.
Sisti turned around and asked, "Is that your answer for this jury?"
Sisti was obviously frustrated. During his re-cross examination, he started by asking Tatum if there is any doubt in his mind that he is a murderer. Tatum replied there isn't.
Pinette also took the witness stand Thursday. Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley asked him why it took him so long to admit he used a machete during Wilkinson's killing.
"I was ashamed to admit it," Pinette replied. He said he was worried that it would upset his mother.
SECOND ADMITTED MURDERER FEELS REMORSE
Pinette told the jury on Friday morning that he feels bad for killing Wilkinson.
"I feel bad for Aaron's family. I can't imagine how his parents feel," Pinette said. "I never had kids of my own, so I can't imagine losing one."
Wilkinson's mother crumpled her face as she silently sobbed.
In exchange for his testimony, Pinette, like Tatum, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and falsifying physical evidence. He is expected to serve 30 years to life in prison.
Watch WBIN-TV tonight for more on this murder trial.
Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.