In March of this year District Attorney Betsy Scheibel shocked the world as she charged six teenagers for relentless bullying which led to the suicide of Irish South Hadley student, Phoebe Prince. As Scheibel prepares to step down many in Western Massachusetts wonder if their cases will ever make it to trial.
It was originally thought that one of her assistants who was involved in the six South Hadley student’s prosecutions would step into her position. However they lost the Democratic primary last month.
Hampshire Register of Probate,David Sullivan, who won the primary, is now the DA in waiting. Sullivan told Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen “I’ll take a look at this case, and I’m going to do justice.”
The law enforcement officials who worked on the Phoebe Prince case feel that because Sullivan has so much experience as a defense attorney, and not as a prosecutor, that the defense side will have a more powerful influence over him during the Phoebe Prince case.
During the pre-trial hearings last month, following Sullivan’s success in the primary, prosecutors were pushing for the trial to take place in December while the defense lawyers were looking for a delay hoping for Sullivan to take over.
It now seems that the trial will not take place until after the New Year but Dave Sullivan insists that the speculation surrounding his possible performance or involvement in the case is just that, speculation.
Speaking to the Boston Globe he said “I haven’t even been elected yet. I don’t take over until January. And I don’t know who will stay or go in the office. People are jumping to conclusions.’’ He said that first order of business when he enters office will be staffing and all of Scheibel’s staff will be invited to reapply.
He continued “Defense counsel, of course they supported me...I was a defense attorney for 16 years. I was president of the [Hampshire County] bar association. But I’m not going to take a dive on any case, for anybody.’’
He admitted that he has not even begun to review the cases which he might inherit in January but he also understands why there is so much speculation over Phoebe Prince’s case.
“That case is high profile...We’ll put a good prosecutor on it,” said Sullivan.
It is expected that the trial will take place in the beginning of 2011, a year after the 15-year-old, Phoebe Prince was driven to suicide.
The six teens, two boys and four girls, aged between 16 and 18, face a different mix of felony charges that include statutory rape, violation of civil rights with bodily injury, harassment, stalking and disturbing a school assembly.