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Wednesday 17 August 2022
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Soccer Coach Acquitted of Murder Files Lawsuit Against DA Offices

Three months after he was acquitted of the murder of a 12-year-old boy in Potsdam, Oral “Nick” Hillary, the former head coach of the men’s soccer team at Clarkson University, is filing a lawsuit against the people who first put him on trial to begin with.

After a month of court proceedings this past September, Hillary was found not guilty in the 2011 murder of his former partner’s son, 12-year-old Garrett Phillips. Now, the immigrant and father of five is seeking reparations for “severe trauma and stress suffered” after “years of apprehension and false accusations.”

According to the documents obtained by the Watertown Daily Times, “Mr. Hillary is alleging that he was subject to continuous illegal and improper actions and conduct regarding his false arrest, investigation, malicious prosecution, fabrication of evidence, falsification of evidence and concealment of exculpatory evidence.”

Among those named in the filing are St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain, Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick, St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells, and dozens more, including the Village of Potsdam, St. Lawrence and Onondaga counties, and even the State of New York itself. The trial failed to produce any DNA or forensic evidence of Hillary’s connection to the murder.

“There were no eyewitnesses to the alleged homicide,” said Hillary’s civil lawyer, Amy Marion. “Mr. Hillary was immediately targeted as a suspect without any legal or rational basis to do so.”

An immigrant from Jamaica who served in the U.S. Army, Hillary was hired as head soccer coach at Clarkson University in 2009. Before that, he served as head varsity coach at the Admiral Farragut Academy in Saint Petersburg, Florida, for some of the 284,000 boys and 209,000 girls across the country who play soccer.

“The police investigation by village of Potsdam police and state of New York troopers failed to uncover any evidence linking Mr. Hillary to this horrible death,” Marion said. “Instead of conducting an investigation into the death, a boy’s assailant remains at large because investigators covered up actual evidence, leads and information.”

The lawsuit was filed on December 21. It did not contain specific accusations of evidence forged or fabricated.