Garrett Phillips' murder was tragic enough on its own: A 12-year-old boy found gravely injured in his own home. The trial that followed, however, left his hometown divided as a man was targeted as the murderer, leading to accusations of racism and misconduct. One of the key players in the trial was Mary Rain, so where is she now?
First, some background: Philips was killed in Potsdam, a small rural town in upstate New York town located not far from the Canadian border in 2011.
He was found unconscious inside his home soon after neighbors reported hearing strange sounds, a child yelling for help, and a lock clicking from the apartment. Authorities believe the killer escaped as police were on the way.
The shocking murder had police soon zeroing in on one suspect: Oral “Nick” Hillary, one of the only black men in Potsdam and the ex-boyfriend of Phillips' mother. And while he was charged for the crime in 2014, he was found not guilty in 2016 after a contentious trial as shown in the new two-part HBO docu-series “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?”
Rain was not a part of the case when Phillips was first murdered, but she jumped on board later and played a pivotal — and controversial — role.
Rain began running for the district attorney’s office in 2013, as the new doc shows. At that point, no arrests had been made in connection with Phillips’ death despite investigators’ suspicion that Hillary did it, and she began pushing for advancements in the case.
Rain made headlines for blasting the current district attorney, calling her office incompetent. Phillips’ mother would often be by her side during public appearances as she ran for office. Rain told the producers of the HBO doc that she promised the mother she’d give the case more “publicity and keep it alive.”
In the doc, Hillary’s defense accused her of using the case to advance her career.
William Fitzpatrick, the district attorney for Onondaga County, said billboards and posters with the slogan "Justice for Garrett' began popping up during Rain's run for office. "The murder of this young boy was becoming a political issue which can be a little distasteful."
She wasn’t unfamiliar with scrutiny. Rain had previously resigned as a St. Lawrence County public defender in 2011, citing an overwhelming case load after she was put on administrative leave.
Still, Rain got elected, and as she said in the new doc, finding Phillips’ killer was her number one priority. She succeeded in getting Hillary charged, but he was eventually found innocent. She was adamant that he was guilty, though, despite him being legally cleared.
“I’m 100 percent certain that Nick Hillary was the man,” Rain said after Hillary’s 2016 acquittal. “There will be no search for anybody else. He was the only person who committed this crime. I’m 100 percent certain of that.”
So, where is Rain now?
Well, her life has changed and, like Hillary’s, not really for the better.
In 2016, law professor Bennett L. Gershman dubbed her “the most dangerous prosecutor in New York State” in a Huffington Post piece, claiming Rain “made a mockery of the justice system” and that her “professional career has been littered with lawless conduct, contempt for the justice system, and an almost pathological ability to sow discord and controversy everywhere she goes.”
Gershman noted that Rain’s first attempt to indict Hillary was thrown out because of her misconduct.
The professor added, “The trail of innocent victims of her abuse of power is long.”
Rain is no longer a district attorney as of 2017. In 2018, she closed down her private practice, citing family reasons, North County Public Radio reported. Her time as district attorney was marked by high turnover, scandals, and a two-year investigation into her conduct.
In 2018, her license to practice law was suspended amid allegations of professional misconduct, North County Public Radio reported. Judges in the Third Judicial Department ruled Rain exhibited "a pattern of disregard for defendants' rights." In fact they determined she violated 24 distinct rules stemming from charges of professional misconduct, filed against her in both March and July 2017, in all. They wrote that she demonstrated a "lack of candor" during the investigation, according to that ruling.
As for the Hillary case, the judges determined that Rain “consciously disregarded” one witness' request to have an attorney present while they were investigated and that she violated the “Brady rule” by suppressing evidence favorable to the defense.
That evidence was an interview with a man who said they saw sheriff’s deputy John Jones walking into Phillips’ apartment building just 15 minutes before Philips did. Jones, like Hillary, once dated Phillips’ mother. The "Brady rule" forbids such suppression of evidence.
The prosecution has admitted that the suppression of that information was inexcusable, but they claim they did so only because they had proof that Jones didn't commit the crime, so therefore they thought that Brown was merely a liar, according to the docu-series. The judge had to temporarily suspend proceedings when that Brady violation came to light in court.
Oxygen.com’s attempts to reach Rain have been unsuccessful. She has also appeared to have removed herself from social media platforms.
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