Witness says argument about rent prompted New London stabbing
A self-employed painter, known to police for being combative and carrying knives, was arraigned Monday in New London Superior Court on charges that he fatally stabbed a homeless man who was staying with him after the two argued about rent.
Patrick McInerney, 44, is accused of murdering Robert Pomerleau, 49, at McInerney's apartment at 39 Tilley St. in New London shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
He briefly appeared before New London Superior Court Judge Ernest Green Jr. in a white paper jumpsuit. Green set McInerney's bond at $1 million and ordered the case transferred to the court where major crimes are heard. His next court date is Jan. 3.
According to a police report, McInerney, who is white, attempted to implicate a black man in the stabbing but was charged with murder after a female friend of his who witnessed the crime provided information. The woman, identified in a report as Witness 2, said she had spent most of the day with McInerney and that they met up with Pomerleau as they were walking back to the apartment. A short time later, she said, McInerney started arguing with Pomerleau "about not staying for free," and it escalated into pushing and shoving. She said as Pomerleau was leaving, McInerney followed him into the hallway, then returned and grabbed a knife from the kitchen drawer. She said McInerney stabbed Pomerleau once in the left side of the chest, and Pomerleau fell to the floor.
Police received multiple 911 calls at 8:35 p.m. about the incident and arrived to find Pomerleau lying on the stairs between the second and third floors of the apartment building. Pomerleau, bleeding from a puncture wound to the chest, was not moving when police arrived. He gasped once, stopped breathing and never regained consciousness, according to the report. He was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.
McInerney came out of his apartment and was handcuffed immediately, according to a police report, because he has a history of fighting with police and carrying knives. During an interview at police headquarters, he said he was lying in bed when he heard an argument followed by a "thump" noise. He said he recognized one of the voices as that of a black man to whom he had given a pair of eyeglasses weeks earlier. McInerney said he jumped out of bed, went into the hallway, saw the victim and called 911. Police were unable to locate any witnesses to corroborate his claim that a black man was responsible.
Bail Commissioner Timothy Gilman said McInerney has a string of criminal convictions dating back to 2008, according to state court records. He has been convicted of drunken driving three times and has convictions for interfering with police and assault. He resolved his most recent court case on Dec. 1, pleading guilty to interfering with police and disorderly conduct.
Gilman told Judge Green that McInerney "barely had time to meet with this probation officer," between his most recent conviction and Monday's murder arraignment. On Dec. 1, he received a fully suspended prison sentence and was placed on probation for one year.
Brenda Donaldson, a longtime friend, said that McInerney had once taken her in when she was homeless. She said he has been struggling with alcohol abuse for a long time, but she was shocked when she heard he was charged with murder.
"I've known him to get mouthy and obnoxious, but never anything like this," Donaldson said.
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