Murder trial stalls as defense awaits final witness

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Tristan Wolusky (Union Leader photo)

DOVER, N.H. - The Rochester man being sought by police who is a material witness in the Aaron Wilkinson murder trial being heard at Strafford County Superior Court was picked up by police Tuesday in Lawrence, Mass.

Judge Steven Houran had issued a material witness warrant on Erik Destefano, 29, earlier this month.

It was not clear as of Tuesday whether Destefano would fight extradition to New Hampshire.

If he testifies Destefano, who shared a cell with accused killer Michael Tatum, 22, of Barrington, will be a witness for the defense.

The sensational murder trial, now in its fourth week, is expected to wrap up in a couple of days.

Tatum, Tristan Wolusky, 19, of Rochester, and Zachary "D.J." Pinette, 19, of Springvale, Maine, are accused of fatally stabbing the 18-year old Wilkinson in the driveway of his Madbury home early in the morning hours of June 21, 2014.

Tatum and Pinette have already pleaded guilty to second degree murder and face 30 years to life sentences.

Wolusky, of 46 Lowell St., meanwhile, is facing the possibility of life without parole if convicted of first degree murder.

Pinette's and Tatum's plea deals are in exchange for their testimony against Wolusky,

Wolusky also had contact with Destefano when he was at the jail, the two having spoken several times by phone.

Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley, the lead prosecutor in the case, earlier tried to enter the recorded conversations into evidence because they allegedly showed Wolusky's desire to manipulate a potential witness, but Houran said that would only be allowed if Destefano took the stand.

With no final witness for the defense on hand Tuesday, jurors were dismissed early in the afternoon and court recessed.

The next move from defense lawyer Mark Sisti is unclear if Destefano fails to show.

According to Rochester Police Capt. Gary Boudreau, Destefano has a long history with Rochester Police dating back to 2003, including several willful concealments charges, simple assault, receiving stolen property and theft.

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