FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (AP) – An upstate New York man was convicted Thursday of killing his mother, stepfather and stepbrother with a shotgun and burning down their rural home before fleeing with his girlfriend and their baby.
A Washington County jury deliberated for about two hours before finding 24-year-old Matthew Slocum guilty of arson, three counts of second-degree murder and other charges, local media reported.
On the witness stand, Slocum admitted setting the house on fire, but blamed the killings on his girlfriend, Loretta Colegrove. He said he heard blasts and saw her gun down his stepbrother in their home in White Creek, near the Vermont border 35 miles northeast of Albany.
Colegrove testified it was Slocum who fatally shot the three relatives on July 13.
Slocum was arrested that day in New Hampshire after a multistate manhunt.
He was accused of killing his mother, Lisa Harrington, 44; her husband, Dan Harrington, 41; and Harrington’s son, Joshua O’Brien, 24.
The fire quickly led to Amber Alerts and a search in New York and New England for Slocum, who was believed to be holding Colegrove against her will along with their infant son, Raymond. After being spotted near Adams, Mass., they were found near the home of Slocum’s uncle in Gilsum, N.H., and Slocum surrendered. Colegrove and the child weren’t hurt. She wasn’t charged.
Defense attorney Michael Mercure told the jury that blood spatter evidence pointed to Colegrove as the killer, and Slocum fled after the killings out of an instinct to protect her and their child.
But District Attorney Kevin Kortright argued there was no evidence implicating Colegrove, who led investigators to guns dumped on a rural road in western Massachusetts.
One prosecution witness testified that Slocum told him strife between his mother and Colegrove led him to kill his family. Kortright also recounted Slocum’s confession to investigators.
“He told them, `I just shotgunned my mother, dude,'” Kortright said.
Dan Harrington was a deputy highway superintendent. He and his wife served on the town recreation committee.
Slocum had gone to prison in 2006 for breaking into a house and stealing cash, according to state records. He was released but returned to custody twice for violations before his parole expired in December 2009.
Kortright said Slocum faces as much as 25 years to life in prison on each of the murder counts.
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