NORTH HAVERHILL — A judge is considering whether to allow the family and friends of a man who allegedly committed suicide to wear clothing bearing the man’s image at the trial of another man accused of helping him commit the act.
The motion is among several pending before the court as prosecutors and the defense prepare for the trial of Parker J. Hogan, 20. It’s alleged that in May 2018, Hogan provided his 19-year-old roommate, Michael Buskey, with a shotgun and ammunition so that he might take his own live.
According to Plymouth police, the pair walked into a wooded area across from the apartment complex where they lived. Hogan allegedly brought a notebook and pen so Buskey could write suicide notes and provided instructions on how to angle the gun and use a stick to operate the trigger.
Buskey took his life and, several hours later, Hogan allegedly “discovered” Buskey’s body and notified police.
After questioning Hogan, Plymouth police arrested and charged him with causing or assisting suicide and three counts of falsifying physical evidence for allegedly removing the suicide notes and five alcohol “nip” bottles from the scene, as well as wiping his own fingerprints off the shotgun.
Hogan’s trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 27, 2020.
On Aug. 13, Hogan is to appear before Judge Lawrence MacLeod in Grafton County Superior Court for a hearing on pending motions. Both the prosecution and defense have several motions pending to limit who can say or wear what at trial.
Among the motions, the defense has asked the court to regulate “spectator apparel.”
Renee Sargent, Hogan’s public defender, points out that at previous hearings, “friends and family members of the decedent have appeared in and around the courtroom in shirts bearing a large photograph of his face and the words ‘In Memory of Mikey Buskey.’”
Sargent noted that at a prior final pretrial hearing, “there were around 14 individuals wearing these matching shirts.”
The shirts represent “improper influence,” something that the trial judge has “an affirmative obligation” to keep out of the courtroom, she argues.
Allowing the shirts to be worn, the motion said, “would deprive Mr. Hogan of his right to a fair trial under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments and would create a danger of unfair prejudice and confusion to the jury.”
The shirts “may be viewed by the jury as an appeal to sympathy for the deceased and for the spectators wearing the shirts, and as a request to hold Mr. Hogan responsible for their loss.”
The shirts, the motion continued, “may also cause a sympathetic urge to assuage the grief or rage of these individuals with a conviction. This would therefore deprive Mr. Hogan of his right to an impartial jury and a fair trial.”
Sargent is asking the court to order spectators to “either remove or cover up shirts bearing a picture of the decedent in and around the courtroom” and for a hearing on her motion.