Michael Trusty, stabbed in Tisbury fight, dies in Boston hospital
File photo by Nelson Sigelman
Michael M. Trusty, stabbed in the chest during a fight on Spring Street in Tisbury on June 14, died in a Boston Hospital on Saturday afternoon. The charges against his assailant are now expected to be upgraded.
Mr. Trusty, 45, most recently of 54 Hopps Farm Road in West Tisbury, died in Beth Israel Hospital in Boston at about 1:30 pm, according to official sources. A painter by trade, he had been in Boston since his emergency transfer Tuesday from Martha's Vineyard Hospital by MedFlight.
Ovando Eghill, 32, of Assinnashmayak Road in Aquinnah, returned to Edgartown District Court Monday for a bail hearing. Following arguments, presiding Judge H. Gregory Williams reduced bail to $10,000. As of press time Wednesday, Mr. Eghill remained in the county jail.
Bail had been set at $50,000, following Mr. Eghill's arraignment June 15, on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. A judge denied Mr. Eghill's request for a reduction in bail, at a bail review hearing in Barnstable Friday.
Monday, assistant Cape and Islands district attorney Laura Marshard asked the court to increase bail, because of what she described as "a change in circumstances."
Ms. Marshard asked that bail be increased to $100,000.
"On Saturday, the victim, Mr. Trusty, passed away," Ms. Marshard told Judge Williams. "Certainly the seriousness of the incident has changed."
Mr. Eghill's lawyer, Robert Jubinville, argued that his client acted in self-defense and is not a flight risk.
"The facts of this case have not changed one bit. A witness stated that he was driving by Spring Street, and he saw both of these parties face to face. He saw Mr. Trusty hold a machete over his head," Mr. Jubinville said.
"He (Mr. Eghill) didn't start this fight. He (Mr. Trusty) went after Mr. Eghill with a machete, swinging it over his head and yelling he would kill him. He had a right to live and a right to defend himself. This is self-defense, pure and simple. This man has no criminal record."
Mr. Jubinville told Judge Williams his client would agree to conditions to include GPS monitoring.
"We can certainly make sure he appears in court," he said.
Ms. Marshard described a different sequence of events, based on witness statements, including one that described a man wearing paint-spattered pants attacked from behind and repeatedly punched in the face.
"We have another witness who saw the machete, also lifted by Mr. Trusty in a very feeble and weak manner," she said. "This case is still being actively investigated."
Judge Williams took the request for a bail increase under advisement.
Early reports of dispute
On Tuesday, June 14 Tisbury, State and Edgartown Police cooperated to respond to 97 Spring Street, following a report of a stabbing. The caller to 9-1-1, identified in the police report as Kelly Eghill, said, "Someone is dying here."
When the first Tisbury police officers arrived, Mr. Trusty was lying on the ground face up, blood on his shirt and pants. He was unresponsive.
Mr. Eghill and his wife had arrived at the house of a family friend, Stacy Costas, who was watching the couple's two children. Ms. Eghill's ex-husband, Mr. Trusty, was also there to pick up the child they shared.
An argument ensued outside the house. According to police reports, Mr. Trusty retrieved a machete from his truck. A witness said he saw Mr. Eghill "push Trusty away with both his empty hand and his hand containing the knife."
Mr. Eghill left the scene but later drove to the Tisbury Police station.
Mr. Trusty was a painter. Mr. Eghill works for a construction company. Both men are Jamaican nationals with legal residency, according to police.
Following a court recess Monday, Ms. Marshard and Mr. Jubinville returned to the courtroom where Judge Williams announced his decision.
"I am reducing Mr. Eghill's bail to $10,000," Judge Williams said. "If that bail is made, I am imposing a number of conditions."
Judge Williams said Mr. Eghill must obey all laws, notify probation of any change of address, report in person to probation three times per week, leave his passport and green card in court custody and not attempt to obtain replacement documents, stay away from Spring Street, and remain in his house from 7 pm until 6 am.
The judge added that Mr. Eghill could not be released from jail until he could be outfitted with a GPS tracking device.
In explaining his decision to reduce bail, Judge Williams said, "I would note there are no new charges. I would also note the Commonwealth has not moved for a dangerousness hearing."
Mr. Jubinville moved for an immediate trial. "I'm ready to try this case," he said. "Thursday would be good for me."
Ms. Marshard said she would oppose such a quick trial date. "There is an ongoing investigation. There is physical evidence. We're investigating far more serious charges," she said
Judge Williams commented that it is a little soon for a trial.
"Justice delayed is justice denied, judge," Mr. Jubinville said. "I'm looking for swift justice."
"That's a little too swift," Judge Williams said and scheduled a pre-trial hearing for July 29.
Ms. Marshard declined comment after the court proceedings.
Outside the Dukes County courthouse Monday, Mr. Jubinville, a former State Trooper and experienced defense lawyer, told The Times, "It's sad and tragic that Mr. Trusty died, but when you come at someone with a machete, if you fight back, you're going to be fighting for your life.
"I've got the report," he added, "I'm ready to go to trial. There's no sense letting him languish in jail."
Mr. Eghill will face new charges in the altercation that left friends and family members of both men grieving and at a loss to explain how what began as an argument ended with one man in jail and another dead.
Theft follows death
More pain followed the death of Mr. Trusty. Thieves broke into the West Tisbury house Mr. Trusty shared with his fiancee as he lay in a Boston Hospital.
Initial police reports provided a home address for Mr. Trusty of Pennywise Path in Edgartown. The DA's office gave an address of School House Road.
Detective Mark Santon said Mr. Trusty's most recent address was in West Tisbury. Over the weekend, Mr. Trusty's fiance contacted Tisbury police and reported that while she was in Boston someone broke into the house and stole an undetermined amount of money and jewlery.
In a later conversation with police, she reported that the thieves took $4,000 in cash, an engagement ring, and a half pound of marijuana. Wednesday, West Tisbury police Chief Dan Rossi said his department is investigating the claims.
This week, family members made funeral arrangements for Mr. Trusty. According to an obituary that appears in today's issue of The Times, Mr. Trusty moved to Martha's Vineyard in 2000. He leaves six children.
Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward. In particular, police want to speak to three dark skinned males riding in a small red pickup truck with a lawn mower in the back. Detective Santon said police believe they pulled over and watched the confrontation. Witnesses may call Tisbury police, between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm, at 508-696-4240.