Published April 17. 2012 4:00AM
The prosecution in the Eugene Mallove homicide case turned its focus Monday to events that led to the arrest of Chad Schaffer in 2010 after a few days of reviewing the eight-year history of the case.
Schaffer, a 34-year-old restaurant worker and father of two from Norwich, is on trial in Superior Court in Norwich for the fatal beating of Mallove, a prominent physicist from New Hampshire, on May 14, 2004. Mallove was killed at his childhood home at 119 Salem Turnpike as he cleaned out the property following the eviction of its previous tenants.
Schaffer, his former girlfriend Candace Foster and his cousin Mozzelle Brown were not accused of Mallove's murder until six years later because two other men, Gary McAvoy and Joseph Reilly, were initially arrested. Schaffer and Foster had lived with Schaffer's mother and stepfather Roy and Patricia Anderson at the Mallove property before the Andersons were evicted in April 2004.
Over the past few days, prosecutors Paul J. Naducci and Thomas DeLillo called on forensic examiners from the state crime laboratory who testified there was no DNA, fingerprints, hair or other physical evidence linking McAvoy and Reilly to the crime. The state's case against the two men had also hinged on jailhouse informants who proved unreliable, according to testimony. A judge dismissed the charges against the two men in November 2008.
The state is turning now toward people who came forward to implicate Schaffer as well as to his own incriminating statements. On Monday, the jury heard from state police Detective Terence McFadden, who teamed up with Norwich police Detective James Curtis and started re-interviewing witnesses in the case. McFadden said that after the state offered a $50,000 reward, Jill Sebastian, a one-time housemate of Schaffer and Foster, came forward with information that led police to Schaffer, Foster and others.
Five years after the crime, in the summer of 2009, police seized molding and swabbed bathroom tiles from the Chestnut Street home where Schaffer and Foster were living when the crime occurred, but came up with nothing useful. They also searched a fire pit at an Otrobando Avenue address after learning that key evidence had been burned there. That search also proved futile.
Eventually, police would take several people, including Foster, into a witness protection program, and Schaffer would make incriminating statements when Curtis and Norwich Detective Sgt. Corey Poore confronted him with a hidden camera. Curtis began testifying late Monday and is expected to return to the witness stand today. Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed has denied defense attorney Bruce B. McIntyre's motion to suppress the Schaffer confession.
Also testifying Monday was Schaffer's cousin, Carrie Schaffer, who said she drove by the Mallove property on May 14, 2004, and called her aunt Patricia Anderson to tell her people were throwing "junk" out at the Mallove home.
Additionally, New London attorney Andrew R. Cellemme, who handled the April 2004 eviction of the Andersons for Mallove, testified that it was not a contentious case. He said the Andersons were unable to pay their rent and agreed to move out when they met at a hearing in Superior Court.
"When I met with Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, they had nothing but nice things to say about Dr. Mallove," testified Cellemme.
According to Foster, Schaffer and Brown confronted Mallove after Patricia Anderson called Schaffer, upset that someone was throwing out her possessions. Foster said they returned to the Chestnut Street apartment after beating Mallove and decided to return to make it look like a robbery. When they arrived at the scene, Foster said Mallove lay on the ground bleeding and begging for help, and Schaffer forced her to take part in the crime so that she would not report him to police.