LUNENBURG - There is not enough evidence to charge the prime suspect in a racist graffiti case that rocked Lunenburg late last year, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. said Wednesday.
"We have notified the Lunenburg Police Department that the evidence presented to us fails to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed by a particular person," wrote Early in an email his office has been sending to Lunenburg residents who have inquired about the case.
Early said members of his staff have reviewed all the information in the case and informed the Lunenburg Police Department of its findings. Early went on to say that the case has not officially been closed.
"We will continue to review any new evidence that is brought to our attention to determine if there are sufficient grounds to file criminal charges," he wrote.
Since early December authorities have focused their attention on Andrea Brazier, the mother of Isaac Phillips, the 13-year-old Lunenburg High School football player whose home was tagged with graffiti in mid-November. The graffiti read: "Knights Don't Need N******."
Lunenburg's team nickname is the Blue Knights. Phillips' mother is white, and his father, Anthony Phillips, is black.
The family initially pointed fingers at players on the football team. Brazier suggested that other players may have been jealous that her son, who is in the eighth grade, was playing on the same team as freshmen and junior-varsity players.
Brazier said her son had been repeatedly harassed by classmates because of the color of his skin. Superintendent of Schools Loxi Jo Calmes forfeited the high school's
Thanksgiving football game against St. Bernard's Central Catholic High School in response to the incident.
Hundreds of people in Lunenburg rallied in support of the family, and Isaac Phillips transferred to a Leominster middle school.
The story took a dramatic twist in early December, as investigators fingered Brazier as the primary suspect in the case. A police affidavit detailed how Brazier refused to cooperate with the criminal investigation, made false statements and misled police.
The affidavit described a meeting Brazier held with investigators in which an FBI agent suggested to her that she was the one responsible for the graffiti. Brazier responded by only saying, "OK." She denied that her husband or her son were involved.
After searching the family's 234 Chase Rd. home, police emerged with five live rounds of ammunition, one can of Krylon Indoor/Outdoor spray paint and one can of Krylon Fusion spray paint. Police never said whether they believed the spray paint they recovered was used to write the graffiti.
Brazier declined to comment after the release of Early' statement on Wednesday, saying she needed to consult with her attorney first. Some in town expressed frustration that the case may never be resolved.
"I think it's very disappointing that we don't get some closure on the case," said Selectman Dave Matthews. Matthews praised local law enforcement's handling of the investigation and said he still supports the decision to cancel the high school football team's remaining games.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Lunenburg Police Chief James P. Marino stressed that the case remains open.
"Just because he (Early) chose not to prosecute right now doesn't mean the case is closed," said Marino. Marino would not comment further.
Lunenburg police have said there is no evidence to suggest any players on the football team were responsible for the graffiti. As a result, some in town have criticized Calmes for canceling the team's final games.
Matthews defended that decision Wednesday, saying the superintendent's "intention was for safety on and off the field."
"Hindsight is 20/20, and you get a different viewpoint after the fact," Matthews said. "Given the timeline they had in hand and the information they had, it made sense to do it at the time. They made the best decision they could at the time. It wasn't to punish people. It was for safety."
Town Manager Kerry Speidel declined to comment on Early's statement. School Committee Chairman Greg Berthiaume also declined to comment.
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