Convicted murderer makes second attempt to get a retrial

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Tristan Wolusky during court appearance December 2015. (Rochester Voice file photo)

DOVER - Convicted murderer Tristan Wolusky's second request for a new trial is now in the hands of Strafford County Superior Court Judge Steven Houran following oral arguments made by the state and his new defense counsel on Friday.

The half-hour hearing presented no new evidence or witness testimony, but relied solely on Wolusky's belief that his original defense lawyers were ineffective during his 2015 trial.

Aaron Wilkinson, 18, of Madbury, died during a June 2014 botched robbery by Wolusky, Zachary Pinette, of Springvale, Maine, and Michael Tatum, of Barrington, aimed at stealing drugs and money. Wilkinson was stabbed and struck with a machete more than 20 times, according to a coroner's report. The three then dumped his body by the side of the road in Lebanon, Maine.

Wolusky, 23, formerly of Lowell Street, Rochester, requested a new trial shortly after he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but that request was rejected by Houran on Sept. 20, 2017.

In Houran's 26-page ruling, he laid out his reasoning behind the rejection, including the lack of credibility in the appeal testimony of Wolusky's co-defendants.

Now Wolusky is claiming his defense team of Mark Sisti and Wade Harwood were ineffective. His new counsel is Jaye L. Raycourt of Manchester.

During the trial Wolusky testified in his own defense he never stabbed Wilkinson.

Pinette and Tatum pleaded guilty to second degree murder and were given 30 years to life sentences, with the chance for parole. Their plea deals were in exchange for testimony against Wolusky, whom prosecutors portrayed as the ringleader.

The latest request for a retrial was initially written by Wolusky from prison, Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley told The Rochester Voice on Friday.

There is no set timetable for Houran's decision.

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