On February 7, 2008, Prince Lobel media lawyers achieved an unusual legal victory on behalf of the firm’s client, The Eagle Tribune, which had originally been barred from the arraignment of Thomas Belanger, a teenager charged with murdering his mental health counselor. Staff members Janna Knight and Caroline Brea played key roles in the successful last-minute appeal to the state’s highest court.
- The front-page story in the Eagle-Tribune provided details of the slaying as outlined by the prosecution and defense at the hospital-room arraignment. Among the details the newspaper would not otherwise have learned, had they not been able to attend the arraignment
- According to Belanger’s attorney James Krasnoo, the victim, psychotherapist Diruhi Mattian, “had been treating Belanger for bipolar disorder and helping him cope with the trauma of the physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his father.
- Prosecutor Jessica Strasnick said Mattian “went to the apartment Wednesday night after being called by Belanger’s sister or aunt, asking for help. The children’s mother was in the hospital and the two were home alone.”
- Apparently Mattian was able to call 911 after the stabbing, and said “He hit me. Help me. I am feeling faint.” Police found the 53-year-old Mattian of Wilmington in the doorway, lying face up and slouched.”
- Strasnick said that “Belanger was found in the bedroom where he had gone to slit his throat.”
- On Thursday afternoon during the arraignment, a thin line was visible on Belanger’s neck as he lay chained to the hospital bed. He remained calm throughout the seven-minute proceeding.
- Krasnoo said his client has “a lack of awareness of what happened to himself and the victim.” Krasnoo added “Belanger is not the teen’s original family name. It was legally changed after his father was imprisoned for the abuse against him.”
- Belanger had no family in the hospital room at the time of the arraignment
The Eagle-Tribune also published a story noting Prince Lobel’s legal fight on its behalf. Click here for that article.