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July 25. 2013 9:34PM

Witness in kidnapping case headed to court


LUIS CARVALHO 

BRENTWOOD — A witness who has been held in county jail for 78 days for refusing to testify as a key witness in a Windham kidnapping case will be forced to appear for a deposition before a judge today.

Matthew Nugent, of Billerica, Mass., appeared in court on Thursday alongside his defense lawyer to argue that his two-plus months of incarceration was in violation of his constitutional rights.

“Matt’s liberty has been stripped,” defense lawyer Chuck Keefe said. “He has been caged for 23 hours a day without committing a crime.”

Nugent has been held in solitary confinement because he is being held in the same jail as Luis Carvalho, 33, of Taunton, Mass., whose trial on kidnapping and burglary charges was delayed indefinitely due to Nugent’s refusal to testify.

At a separate hearing on Thursday, Carvalho was released on $10,000 cash bail, freed pending a new trial date.

He spent more than two years behind bars awaiting trial.

Carvalho is accused of donning black clothing and storming a Windham home with another man and restraining a 20-year-old woman last April 15.

Public defenders say the home was owned by Michael Napier, who is facing drug charges in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway argued that the judge could hold Nugent indefinitely as long as he continues to defy the judge’s order to testify.

Judge Marguerite Wageling said on Thursday that Nugent’s freedom hinges on his obeying her order to testify truthfully at Carvalho’s trial.

“Mr. Nugent holds the keys of the jail cell in his hand. He is punishing himself,” Wageling said. “He will get out of jail when he testifies.”

It’s unknown whether Nugent will answer questions during Friday’s deposition.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers would be allowed to ask Nugent questions — much like during a trial — if he chooses to finally testify. Wageling will preside over the hearing.

The state could later use a recording of the testimony at Carvalho’s trial if Nugent became unavailable for trial.jkimble@newstote.com


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