Admitted killer takes stand Sullivan details Aug. 2003 events
Admitted killer takes stand Sullivan details Aug. 2003 events
NASHUA - William Sullivan had a plan.
He would walk across a parking lot, through the backyard of 6 Dumaine Ave., into the breezeway and through the kitchen. He would retrieve an aluminum baseball bat from its place in the living room, and in swift fashion, he would swing, killing Jeanne Dominico.
But, said Sullivan, in taking the stand during his own murder trial Tuesday, things did not go as planned Aug. 6, 2003.
That day, as he crossed the parking lot of the then-Fleet Bank on Amherst Street, Sullivan said he thought, “You’re not going to do it. You’re not capable of it, mentally. I can’t believe you’re dumb enough to be walking to the house, thinking of doing this.”
William Sullivan Trial
But at stake, Sullivan said, was “everything I’d grown to love,” - in this case, Nicole Kasinskas, his 15-year-old-girlfriend and the daughter of Jeanne Dominico, a mother who refused to let the two teens carry out plans to move to Sullivan’s home state of Connecticut.
So he went to Dumaine Avenue, through the back door and into the kitchen. Dominco stood at the stove.
Instead of attacking Dominico right away, Sullivan said, he ended up talking with her for a while inside the house - not part of the plan.
“I was torn,” Sullivan said. “I was torn between what I wanted to do, which was not be there, and what Nicole wanted me to do.”
He later said he was “hoping for a way out.”
“I didn’t feel like I really had a choice or not,” Sullivan said, adding that he had a lot going for him, including a recent promotion
at McDonald’s. “I knew I didn’t want to do it. There’s no doubt about it.”
Eventually, Dominico and Sullivan ended up in the living room.
Sullivan picked up the bat, swiveling it in his hands. Dominico sensed something was wrong.
“She said I was making her nervous,” Sullivan said. “The reason for coming into house was to get my inhaler . . . She felt nervous because I wasn’t doing what I set off to do, and I have a bat in my hand, so she took it from me.”
At some point, the phone rang. It was Kasinskas, calling from the nearby 7-Eleven store. Sullivan’s co-conspirator was waiting in the parking lot and called to warn him of a police officer at the nearby ATM. A few minutes later, there was a second call between the teenage lovers. Sullivan testified he thought this was when he told Kasinskas that her mother had taken his murder weapon.
Kasinskas, he said, told him where to find another bat.
By then, Dominico was getting angry about her daughter’s whereabouts, and with Sullivan’s mysterious behavior.
While Sullivan was still on the phone, the mother and daughter started yelling at one another, he said - a pivotal moment.
“I was in a very, very, very bad situation, doing and thinking things that I normally would never think or do,” Sullivan said. “I had Nicole get mad that things weren’t going way I planned to do, and now, I had Jeannie yelling at my face and Nicole yelling at her . . . it was an overload of information all at once.”
Sullivan then described “snapping.” He got the bat and swung it, striking Dominico in the back.
She turned around and started panicking, Sullivan said.
He said he thought, “I’m screwed. What the hell am I doing? What do I do now?”
Sullivan swung again, but said he doesn’t consciously remember telling himself to do so. He recalled a “wrestling match” in the living room, in which they crashed through the coffee table. They finally ended up in the kitchen - Sullivan couldn’t remember if he chased her or vice versa - with Dominico on the floor. The next part wasn’t part of the plan either, Sullivan said.
“I got a knife and started stabbing her,” Sullivan said, recalling he did it eight times - although medical experts have said Dominico was stabbed 40-50 times.
He said some of the details are a “fuzzy blur,” and not conscious decisions.
“I didn’t say, ‘Hey Billy, go get a knife,’ ” Sullivan testified. “My body went and did what it did.”
Panicked, Sullivan said he ran upstairs to wash up, wrapping the bat and other pieces of bloody evidence into a jacket.
Back at the car, Sullivan said he and Kasinskas “kind of freaked out together.”
“I don’t think either one of us thought this was going to happen,” Sullivan said. “Then the reality kind of hit us . . . I didn’t think for one second that the outcome was going to be what it was.”
Sullivan, now 24, took the stand Tuesday against the advice of his lawyers.
“I’m the only one who can really say what happened,” Sullivan said. “There’s things I believe that were inaccurately portrayed and I’m the only one would can say.”
He is on trial for the second time. Sullivan was convicted in 2005, but got a second trial after a problem with a juror. Sullivan did not testify in his first trial.
His lawyers argue that Sullivan was insane at the time of the murder.
One of Sullivan’s attorneys, Rick Monteith, honed in on Sullivan’s childhood and lengthy history of mental illness.
Sullivan said his parents had an abusive relationship, and said he was 7 the last time he saw his father. He grew up with his mother and four sisters.
“When it was good, it was good,” Sullivan said. “When it was bad, it was chaotic.”
Sullivan was on various medications and placed in psychiatric units throughout childhood for out-of-control behavior, he said. He was violent, would throw things at people and hit them.
Sullivan said that when he’s on his medications, he makes better decisions, doesn’t overreact or take things the wrong way or too personally. Off them, he’s the opposite.
At 16, Sullivan entered a mainstream high school with a special education program. He got a job at McDonald’s and seemed to be on a good track.
Still, police were called to his house numerous times for his verbal and sometimes physical abuse, Sullivan said.
By 18, he stopped taking medications regularly. He stopped seeing a counselor.
“I didn’t go because . . . truth be told, I was forced to see things about myself that I don’t particularly like,” Sullivan said.
In that same year, 2002, he met 14-year-old Kasinskas online.
“Early on, obviously, we gave each other a lot of attention, which I think we both wanted,” Sullivan said.
Departures were difficult, and time away rocky.
They both wanted to move in together, he testified, but Dominico wasn’t having it.
In August 2003, he was invited to stay with Kasinskas for a week. On the third day of his visit, the pair started talking about harming Dominico.
Sullivan doesn’t remember who brought it up, but said the idea was “if Jeannie died, we’d be together.”
Their first plan was to put Benadryl in Dominico’s coffee creamer.
Sullivan said he knew the medicine would only make Dominico drowsy, but that they were “kind of hoping a car accident would occur.” When nothing came of that, the pair decided to put bleach in the creamer, but Sullivan said the idea “was a dud” because bleach spoils.
Sullivan testified to their attempt to light Dominico’s mattress on fire and to string a gasoline-soaked rope into the gas tank and light that on fire to cause an explosion.
The final plan, of course, was successful.
Remorse never a question
On the night of the murder, Sullivan admitted to initially lying to Nashua police during interviews about his whereabouts and level of involvement.
New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley said Sullivan lied to police “until you knew they were on to you.”
Sullivan replied, “I lied until they pretty much coerced it out of me.”
Hinckley also questioned Sullivan’s level of genuine remorse, saying he didn’t cry during interviews with Nashua police Detective Denis Linehan following the murder.
“There’s no question I was remorseful moments after, hours after, even talking to Linehan,” Sullivan said. Through his incarceration at the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections to prison and to now, Sullivan said, “remorse has never been a question, so you might want to check the facts the of the case.” Sullivan admitted when he was not taking his medications, he knew “stuff could happen.”
Sullivan testified that he wrote apology letters to his family, Dominico’s family and to Dominico’s former fiance, Chris McGowan.
“I did that because, you know, first off I’m very sorry that this happened,” Sullivan said. “I wish it didn’t, not just because I got arrested. I could do without these nightmares. Jeannie’s family has the right to know everything. Though it’s not much consolation, I am sorry for what happened, and I wish it didn’t happen.”
Dr. Eric Mart, a forensic psychologist who evaluated Sullivan, testified to diagnosing him with mixed personality disorder and borderline antisocial traits, along with being bipolar. Such diagnoses have characteristics of being impulsive, having chronic feelings of emptiness, anger problems and a fear of losing their sources of support.
Mart said that Sullivan’s “significant mental illness” activated through a series of events during the first week of August 2003, and that it played a role in his ability to control himself.
Based on state legal standards, Mart said he would “definitely say (Sullivan) was not criminally responsible” for what happened.
The trial continues with Mart back on the stand today.
This article appears in the May 22 2009 issue of New Hampshire Business Review