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Suspect charged with murder in Connecticut jogger's death
By Jim Kevlin, Associated Press Writer | December 21, 2005
DANIELSON, Conn. --A Plainfield man was charged Wednesday with capital felony, murder and felony murder in the death of a Woodstock jogger whose battered body was found on property owned by the performer who plays Big Bird on "Sesame Street."
Under the capital felony count, prosecutors can seek the death penalty or life in prison without parole for Scott Deojay, 36.
Deojay told police that he struck Judith Nilan, a 44-year-old middle school social worker, with his car by accident on Dec. 12 in Woodstock and panicked, according to an affidavit supporting the new charges against Deojay. State police said Deojay hid the body in an outbuilding on Caroll Spinney's property, where he worked as a caretaker.
Authorities arrested Deojay on a kidnapping charge on Dec. 13 in connection with Nilan's death and said Spinney was not involved.
State police dispute Deojay's story, saying in the affidavit that Nilan's injuries were inconsistent with being hit by a car. Authorities said the cause of death was blunt force injuries of the head and neck, and they ruled the case a homicide.
At a hearing at Danielson Superior Court on Wednesday, Deojay's bond was increased to $2 million and he was ordered to return to court on Feb. 15 for a probable cause hearing. He was previously held on $510,000 bond on the kidnapping charge.
It wasn't clear whether State's Attorney Patricia M. Froehlich will seek the death penalty. She issued a statement saying she intends to say nothing about the case outside the courtroom.
Deojay's lawyer, Public Defender Ramon Canning, said Nilan's injuries might have been inconsistent with being hit by a car but were not inconsistent with being run over by one.
"The state's allegations are simply wrong in this case," Canning said.
About a dozen of Nilan's relatives and friends, many tearful, attended the brief proceeding on Wednesday. Most declined to comment.
Cindy Stafford of Woodstock, a childhood friend of Nilan, said, "I'm looking for justice. I know that nothing can ever bring her back."
Nilan disappeared during an afternoon jog near her home. Her husband reported her missing.
An earlier police affidavit said Nilan's body was found bound, with her running pants partially pulled down, and that she appeared to have been beaten about the head.
Deojay told police he dragged Nilan into his car and drove to Spinney's property. When he couldn't carry the body up a folding staircase in the outbuilding, he tied a rope around her and used it to hoist her into the storage area, the affidavit says.
Canning said that explains the bound wrists and ankles and how her pants came down to her knees.
Canning said police added those details "because they want to be sensational" and said they should have described the investigation as a vehicular homicide with an attempt to hide the body.
In addition the new charges and kidnapping, Deojay is also charged with interfering with an emergency call and second-degree breach of peace. Police said he attempted suicide after he was interviewed by state troopers investigating Nilan's death, before he was arrested.
Deojay wasn't immediately charged with the murder counts because Connecticut and Massachusetts authorities had to work out a jurisdictional issue. Nilan's body was found on a part of Spinney's property that lies just over the state line in Southbridge, Mass. Massachusetts officials agreed to let Connecticut handle the murder charges.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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