A Springfield man whose supporters say he is innocent will be retried — but the same judge who ordered a new trial also denied bail today [Monday] Charles Wilhite was convicted nearly two years ago in the 2008 shooting death of a Springfield man in the city’s Six Corners neighborhood. But in May he won a new trial after a prosecution witness recanted his testimony. More than 3 dozen of Wilhite’s family members and community supporters turned out for the new bail hearing, hoping he would be released. But prosecutors say he has an extensive criminal record as a juvenile and adult. And Superior Court Judge Peter Velis said he could not ignore Wilhite’s history of disrespect for law enforcement. Defense attorney William O’Neill says he was not totally surprised by the bail decision. But he says he is disappointed that Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni will press a new trial.
“We thought Attorney Mastroianni would look at the evidence and decide that it certainly wasn’t strong enough in light of the judge’s decision to order a new trial. That didn’t take place, so at this point and time we’re resigned ourselves that there has to be a trial and that we’re going to be ready for it.”
Prosecutors say they have other witnesses who will testify to Wilhite’s guilt. Judge Velis did allow Wilhite to be moved from a State prison in Shirley to the Hampden County House of Correction in Ludlow, making it easier for Wilhite’s family and lawyers to visit him. But for Vira Cage, Wilhite’s aunt and a member of the group Justice for Charles, that’s little comfort. She says injustice continues each day Wilhite remains behind bars.
“It’s been a thousand plus days, and we’re going to keep counting the days until the DA’s office figures it out. I mean I guess they just want to go ahead with this trial and come to a conclusion that way. And …we’re here for the long haul.”
A court date to schedule a new trial has tentatively been set for July 25th.