Kathleen Hilton was held in custody for ten years before an Essex County jury acquitted her of first degree murder. Hilton was charged with arson and murder of five people following a fire that tore through a triple decker home in Lynn, Massachusetts. Experienced Boston criminal defense attorney Michael Natola secured the not guilty verdict following delays which he described as “of monumental proportion” over the suppression of the confession that Mrs. Hilton gave to police. Further adding to the delay was litigation relative to Hilton’s competence.
During an interview with New England Cable News, retired Superior Court Justice Isaac Borenstein maintained that in this case, the court system took too long. Judge Borenstein was involved in some of the pre-trial hearings in this case and recognized that the case should not have taken ten years to go to trial. According to New England Cable News, Borenstein believes that the Massachusetts Court system has made strides to ensure that criminal cases move more quickly through the system.
In Massachusetts, a case must be tried within one year of a defendant’s arraignment. However, routine pre-trial delays, including a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and motion to suppress statements are generally excludable time periods and do not count towards the one year period. However, the time that a case languishes in a session following a hearing, provided experienced trial counsel pushes for a decision, in certain situations may be included in the one year time frame.