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Norwich jury hears about first suspects in Mallove case

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published April 11. 2012 1:54PM   Updated April 12. 2012 12:20AM

A jury Wednesday heard the names of two men initially charged with killing scientist Eugene Mallove and listened to testimony from forensic experts as the murder trial of Chad M. Schaffer continued in Superior Court in Norwich.

Schaffer, 34, and two others are accused of fatally beating Mallove, a 56-year-old physicist from New Hampshire, in the driveway of his childhood home at 119 Salem Turnpike on May 14, 2004.

Schaffer, a pizza cook, his cousin Mozzelle Brown, and his girlfriend Candace Foster would not come into focus as suspects until police reopened the Mallove case following the exonoeration in 2008 of the two initial suspects, Gary McAvoy and Joseph Reilly.

Norwich Detective Sgt. Corey Poore testified Wednesday that he went to Schaffer's apartment hours after the murder because he knew that Schaffer had lived at the Mallove property with his parents, Patricia and Roy Anderson, who had been evicted a month earlier for nonpayment of rent. Poore said Schaffer told him he was home all night watching movies with his girlfriend, Foster. Poore said Schaffer showed him the clothes he was wearing, which were not bloody.

In 2009, Foster would enter a witness protection program and tell the police that Schaffer and Brown confronted Mallove that day because Schaffer's mother was upset that Mallove, who was readying the home to rent out again, was throwing away her possessions. Foster says Schaffer and Brown came home with bloody clothing and took her back to the Mallove property, where Mallove was begging for help, and made her take part in the continued attack. Foster said she cleaned Schaffer's bloody clothing with bleach.

As the state attempts to prove its case against Schaffer, prosecutors Paul J. Narducci and Thomas DeLillo are introducing evidence from the earlier investigation, including forensic tests results indicating McAvoy and Reilly are not responsible. Deborah Messina, former director of the state crime laboratory, and forensic examiners Maria Warner and Lucinda Lopes-Phelan testified about dozens of items that were submitted for testing.

McAvoy and Reilly were arrested that May weekend after New Britain Police picked them up in a stolen car, noticed they had blood on their clothes and notified Norwich police. The two men admitted they had been on a crack binge and had committed several burglaries, but adamantly denied being in Norwich.

Poore testified Wednesday that he and now-retired Lt. Michael Blanchette interviewed Reilly and McAvoy in New Britain. Poore said he kept asking questions such as, "How did the old man die?" and "What happened on Salem Turnpike?" and that McAvoy, the more emotional of the two, responded, "I can't tell you."

McAvoy told police that he and Reilly had had a fight, and DNA tests eventually revealed that none of the blood on the men's clothing came from Mallove.

Murder charges were dismissed in 2008 after McAvoy's attorney, William T. Koch, discovered a clerical error involving a strand of brownish-gray hair that had assumed great importance in the case given the lack of other physical evidence.

Forensic examiners said the hair, belonging to McAvoy, was found in Mallove's van, which was recovered at Foxwoods Resort Casino hours after he was killed. The hair actually had come from the car that Reilly and McAvoy had stolen that weekend.

Koch had noticed there were two hairs labeled as "#29" in the case. The one labeled "NR #29" came from Norwich police, who had processed the stolen car. The other, labeled "CSP #29," was from the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, which had processed Mallove's minivan.

At Schaffer's trial, the prosecutors have been asking witnesses to describe how laboratory submissions are labeled and tracked. Evidence comes into the crime lab from several different sources, according to Messina. In the Mallove case, the Norwich police, as the lead investigative agency, submitted items for testing. The Major Crime Squad, which assisted Norwich by processing the crime scene and Mallove's van, also submitted items. Sometimes defense attorneys also submit items.

Also testifying briefly Wednesday was Mallove's son, Ethan Mallove, who was shown a stolen camera that was recovered from Reilly and McAvoy. Mallove, who had previously testified that his father used a "point and shoot" digital camera, said he had never seen the one that he was shown on the witness stand.

The trial will resume Monday.

k.florin@theday.com

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