Whether Wolusky gets new trial now up to the judge

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Tristan Wolusky smiles and waves to the courtroom as he leaves a hearing on his appeal for a new trial last August. (Rochester Voice file photo)

DOVER - Prosecution and defense lawyers gave final oral arguments in Strafford County Superior Court on Wednesday on whether a convicted Rochester murderer should get a new trial in the 2014 death of a Madbury teenager.

Tristan Wolusky, 21, was found guilty of first degree murder in the June 2014 death of 18-year-old Aaron Wilkinson in December 2015, but soon after the verdict, he and defense lawyers launched an appeal for a new trial saying Wolusky's co-defendants lied on the witness stand in exchange for lighter sentences from the state.

On Wednesday prosecutor Peter Hinckley and defense attorney Mark Sisti spent about an hour in all as they gave their closing arguments before Superior Court Judge Steven M. Houran.

Hinckley told The Rochester Voice on Wednesday it was hard to believe the appeal has now stretched out over some 18 months, almost as long as it took the trials for the three defendants to conclude.

"I'd made all my arguments in court during the (appeal process), so it didn't take long for me to make final arguments today," Hinckley said.

He said he didn't expect Houran to make any quick decision on the merits of the case, but to "take as long as it takes."

Wilkinson died during a botched robbery by Wolusky, Zachary Pinette of Springvale and Michael Tatum of Barrington aimed at stealing drugs and money. He was stabbed and struck with a machete more than 20 times, according to a coroner's report.

Wolusky was charged as the ringleader and last year given a life sentence without parole after a jury trial, while Pinette and Tatum got 30 years with the possibility of parole.

However, last year defense lawyers put forward that both Tatum and Pinette sought to recant their trial testimony, pressing the court for a new trial.

However, in November Tatum told the court he and Pinette had lied in those new statements seeking to aid Wolusky.

During a hearing last month Pinette's testimony sought to undermine the state's case, claiming that Hinckley fed him his testimony for the Wolusky trial during an unrecorded pretrial meeting.

During the following day's testimony, however, an inmate at the prison who was housed in a cell next to Pinette's, James Perry, told the court Pinette told him he planned to recant his trial testimony to help Wolusky, saying Wolusky was a close friend of his and he shouldn't do life.

Sisti has told the court on several occasions and again on Wednesday that Hinckley should be removed as the prosecuting attorney, claiming that Pinette and Hinckley have sparred over testimony so much that the situation has rendered Hinckley unable to perform as lead prosecutor.

Houran has denied the motion several times.

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