A Salem Superior Court judge today refused to temporarily release from prison one of four men accused of murdering a Bradford teen in 2017. Ruling from the bench, Judge Thomas Drechsler was not moved by the argument that COVID-19 in the prisons represented changed circumstances.
Thomas J. 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. His lawyer, James B. Krasnoo of Andover told WHAV he is “disappointed” his motion wasn’t granted.
“It is frightening to leave a healthy man in a den of contamination,” Krasnoo said of Warner’s imprisonment at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction while awaiting trial. According to Assistant District Attorney Christina Pujals Ronan, there are currently no new cases of COVID-19 at the prison, but 20 inmates have tested positive since April 10, and all have recovered. Krasnoo said he will consult with his client about next steps, but continue monitoring daily reports from the state’s prisons. He pointed out state Supreme Court Justice Elspeth Cypher last month released William Utley who is awaiting trial on such charges as gun possession and second-degree murder.
Ronan argued Warner is a flight risk because he is facing a life sentence and has no local ties.
According to a prosecution summary, Warner, Nicholas Mandato and Kenneth Pitts “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.
Benner, prosecutors say, is formerly of Delaware. His mother, Erika J. Benner, served as the deputy treasurer for the state of Delaware before resigning amid a scandal in 2013.