EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 19, 2013

Haverhill man indicted in alleged murder

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — A Haverhill man has been indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury for the alleged murder of a New Hampshire resident in October.

Philip Lucas DeFusco, 21, will have his case moved to the Superior Court level, after a grand jury on Monday indicted him on a charge of murder in the death of Derric Gaines of Danville, N.H.

DeFusco was in Haverhill District Court Oct. 17 after police charged him with stabbing Gaines the evening of Oct. 16. But, DeFusco, did not show his face in court and instead stood hidden in a stairwell between the lower level holding area and the courtroom above.

DeFusco’s defense lawyer, Thomas Gleason, convinced Judge Patricia Dowling to allow him to remain hidden from public view — although close enough to hear the proceedings — saying there were questions about his identification as a suspect.

Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said there was no identification issue and that DeFusco’s stepmother told police she thought he had been involved in a stabbing.

Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said the charge of murder can only be tried in the Superior Court. She said that as of yesterday, DeFusco’s arraignment date in Superior Court had not been scheduled.

DeFusco, of 45 Locust St., Apt. 716, has been held without bail since his arraignment in Haverhill.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, on Oct. 16 at approximately 8:23 p.m., officers responded to High Street for a report of a man with multiple stab wounds. Police found Derric Gaines, 25, of Danville, N.H., lying on the sidewalk, bleeding profusely. Gaines was pronounced dead at Lawrence General Hospital a short time later, according to Carrie Kimball-Monahan.

Haverhill police issued a bulletin to be on the lookout for a black 1998 Honda Accord with a New Hampshire license plate wanted in connection with the murder.

Police later reported that the vehicle had been recovered, but would not say whether anyone had been taken into custody.

According to the police report, the following day a woman stopped by the police station to say she witnessed the murder. The woman told police she read about the incident online and that instead of a black Honda they should be looking for a white Hyundai or Lincoln with Massachusetts plates.

The witness said that on the evening of Oct. 16 she saw two men arguing inside a white car parked on Arch Street. She said the driver pushed the passenger out the passenger door, climbed out of the car as then assaulted him. The witness said the man broke free and ran down Arch Street to High Street, but the driver chased him.

The witness told police that after two minutes passed, the driver walked back up Arch Street, where he paused to retrieve something that had fallen to the ground during the altercation, then fled the area at a high rate of speed.

Police said they showed the witness a photo array that included a photo of DeFusco, but she was unable to identify him. The report noted that the photo was from 2009 and was not an accurate depiction of how he looks now.

The report said DeFusco’s stepmother also called police and told them she believed her stepson was involved in the stabbing on High Street.

The report said that at the same time, a male relative of the woman also called police to say they needed to get to her apartment quickly as DeFusco was “freaking out” and that he feared he was going to kill his stepmother and her 14-year-old son.

Police responded to 45 Locust St. (The Cordovan), where the woman told them that her stepson “Luke” was in their apartment and that she was fearful of going back in. The report said she then got into a car with her younger son. Police said the car matched the description given to them by a witness. Police inspected the car, which they identified as a white 2009 Lincoln MKZ, and noticed a reddish brown substance on the exterior and on the steering wheel.

Officers found Philip DeFusco in a bedroom. Police noted that DeFusco’s right hand had gauze and tape on it.

Philip DeFusco’s stepmother told police that when he came home that Wednesday night between 8 and 8:30 p.m., he appeared agitated. She said he told her that “somebody got hurt on High Street” and there was blood in her car and she should go and clean it.