Published March 24. 2012 4:00AM Updated March 25. 2012 12:20AM
The attorney for accused murderer Chad Schaffer is seeking to discredit key witnesses and keep his client's incriminating statements from a jury as the trial date approaches in the case of a prominent physicist who was beaten to death in a Norwich driveway.
Schaffer, a 34-year-old restaurant worker from Norwich, was charged in the May 14, 2004, beating death of Eugene Mallove in 2010, after the state had reinvestigated the case and dismissed charges against two men who initially had been charged.
Mallove, 56, of New Hampshire was beaten to death in the driveway of a family-owned home at 119 Salem Turnpike.
Schaffer, who is being held at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, has pleaded not guilty and opted for a trial. With jury selection complete and trial set to begin Thursday in Superior Court in Norwich, Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed on Friday started addressing some of the pretrial motions filed by defense attorney Bruce A. McIntyre.
McIntyre is seeking psychological, school and disability records for Candace L. Foster, the mother of Schaffer's two children and the state's key witness against him. Foster, also charged with murder, cooperated with police and was placed in the witness protection program before she was arrested. The defense is seeking records from the Department of Children and Families on Jill Sebastian and Keishon Dullivan, two former roommates of Schaffer and Foster who also cooperated with the investigation.
Foster told police she and Schaffer had lived once at the Mallove property with Schaffer's parents, Pat and Roy Anderson, who had been evicted. When his mother called, upset that somebody was throwing away her possessions, Foster said Schaffer and his cousin, Mozzelle Brown, confronted Mallove, stomped on his face, beat him with a pipe and suffocated him by putting a bag over his head. She said they picked her up and brought her to the scene and, as Mallove lay on the ground bleeding and begging for help, forced her to take part in the crime so that she would not report them to police.
On Friday, McIntyre called Foster's mother, Jody Pavilonia, to the witness stand and questioned her about her daughter's childhood. Pavilonia testified that Foster was a difficult child with anger and learning problems who was abused by a baby sitter. Pavilonia said Foster once pulled a knife on her. She said Foster is better when she takes her medication. DeLillo asked whether Foster ever lost touch with reality, and the mother said no.
Under questioning from McIntyre, Norwich Detective James Curtis admitted he had once called Foster a pathological liar and had said he couldn't trust her "as far as I could throw her."
He testified that at that point in the investigation, Foster had not been truthful, and that she eventually had told the truth.
"The information she did provide was extremely helpful for this case," Curtis testified.
The defense also is seeking to keep from the jury a confession that Schaffer gave to Curtis and Sgt. Corey Poore during an April 1, 2010, interview that was recorded secretly. The judge was watching a video of the interview and following along with a transcript when court adjourned for the day Friday.
Jongbloed will continue to listen to arguments between McIntyre and prosecutors Thomas DeLillo and Paul Narducci on Tuesday.