DA Blodgett’s Office Outlines Arguments Against Freeing Accused Killer of Bradford Teen, Reveals New Evidence

Meagan Finn, the mother of murdered Bradford teen Bryce Finn, was escorted out of Haverhill District Court after the arraignment of Nicholas Mandato. (WHAV News photograph.)

Thomas Warner, of Selbyville, Del., was arrested in July 2018 in connection with the 2017 murder of Bradford’s Bryce Finn. (Booking photograph courtesy of the Sussex Correctional Institution.)

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s office is outlining multiple reasons a man accused of murdering a Bradford teen in 2017 should not be released temporarily from prison because of COVID-19.

As WHAV first reported Monday, Thomas J. Warner is seeking to take advantage of a recent state Supreme Judicial Court ruling that allows some suspects awaiting trial to be released. Warner, of Delaware, is one of four men charged with armed assault to rob and murdering 18-year-old Bryce T. Finn in the doorway of his Bradford home. A motion filed by Assistant District Attorney Christina Pujals Ronan suggests, among other reasons, Warner is a flight risk because he is facing a life sentence and has no local ties. Both sides are expected to present arguments Thursday morning.

Ronan’s motion also provides new information about the murder.

“It is significant to note that since the defendants in this case were indicted, three of the four have been linked by DNA profile matches to items discarded at the murder scene, including this defendant, Thomas Warner,” Ronan wrote, but did not detail the items.

Ronan also summarized the prosecution’s case, saying, Warner and two others “drove hours” from Delaware to Haverhill on June 6, 2017 to rob Finn of “cash, luxury items and narcotics.” She added, “the men brought disguises, at least one firearm and met up with…a Haverhill resident,” Joseph Maxwell “Max” Benner. Warner, Nicholas Mandato and Kenneth Pitts wore masks as they approached the deck and side door of Finn’s house. The prosecutor said a “a confrontation occurred” and Finn was shot and killed by one of the men.

Ronan said Warner has not demonstrated any pre-existing medical conditions that puts him at particular risk of contracting COVID-19 and that there were no current cases of the coronavirus inside the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction as of May 1. She also asked whether Warner has previously tested positive for the virus or has exhibited symptoms as well as details of where he would stay outside of prison.

Warner’s lawyer, James B. Krasnoo of Andover, petitioned the court April 28 for his release on personal recognizance in light of a state Supreme Judicial Court decision last month. Justices had ruled in the earlier case that “the potential spread of COVID-19 through jails and prisons in the Commonwealth created a situation that is ‘urgent and unprecedented, and that a reduction in the number of people who are held in custody is necessary.’”

Krasnoo told WHAV that while the court included a murder charge on a list of “excluded offenses” for gaining release, justices opened the door for reconsideration of bail “on the ground of changed circumstances.”

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