LUNENBURG — Despite an announcement Wednesday that no charges would be filed in the case of racial graffiti in Lunenburg because of a lack of evidence, that does not mean charges cannot be filed later, according to a local attorney.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. issued a statement Wednesday, saying his office did not have enough evidence to file criminal charges against anybody in this case, in which 13-year-old Isaac Phillips and his family woke up to find the N word spray-painted on their house.
While the initial focus of the investigation focused on the high-school football team, the players were eventually cleared and Phillips’ mother, Andrea Brazier, became the prime suspect.
Early said the case has not been closed and he will review any and all evidence that comes in.
There has been speculation as to whether Brazier would face charges in district court, superior court or face federal charges if enough evidence was found.
Leominster-based attorney Mark Bodanza said if federal charges were to be pursued by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office would convene a federal grand jury.
“That’s basically the district attorney’s counterpart on the federal side,” he said Thursday afternoon.
Bodanza is not involved with the case, and does not know every piece of evidence collected throughout the investigation, but he did say the fact that the district attorney is not pursuing charges at this time says a lot.
“The District Attorney’s Office said they didn’t have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard to arrest or indict is probable cause, which is a much lesser standard,” he said. “It’s quite conceivable that level of evidence may exist but they don’t believe they could get a conviction.”
He also said it’s possible Brazier is still a suspect, but until there is more evidence, a conviction may not be guaranteed.
During a search of the family’s home on Chase Road, two spray-paint cans were found partially burned in an outdoor fire pit as well as couple rounds of live ammunition.
Bodanza said the finding of the cans brings up more questions then answers.
“The first thing we don’t know is if the type of paint that was used is the same one used on the foundation,” Bodanza said. “Assuming it was, how did the cans get there? Is it conceivable somebody else put them there? Them there by themselves doesn’t conclude it.”
He said if investigators were able to chemically test and show the cans found discarded outside matched the paint used on the home, it could show probable cause.
“I just wonder if you place yourself in a position as a juror, if you know nothing about this case except a spray-paint can was found, could you find beyond a reasonable doubt that somebody in that household did this,” he said.
Selectman Dave Matthews said selectmen would not necessarily be told by Police Chief James Marino the status of the department’s investigation, but he did believe the chief spoke with the town manager Thursday.
“There’s a separation of powers there,” he said. “There isn’t anything I can do about this. It’s really up to the DA. I just hope more evidence comes in. It is what it is.”
Matthews said if it’s proven Brazier was responsible, she should apologize to the community, but it’s unlikely that apology will ever happen.
“Whoever did this will never admit to it, and will hope it never comes to light,” he said. “Nobody will admit to any more then they already have.”
Messages left for Marino about the future of the department’s investigation were not returned Thursday afternoon.
Lt. Mike Luth said all comments on the status of the investigation must come from Marino.
Town Manager Kerry Speidel confirmed she had a conversation Thursday with Marino about the case but deferred comment to him.
“The discussion we had, I didn’t ask him what he was going to make public,” she said. “Without talking with him, I am not sure what to say.”
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