WOBURN, Mass — Recordings of courtroom audio obtained by 25 Investigates reveal how prosecutors failed to keep a man behind bars while awaiting trial for allegedly stabbing a pregnant woman in the head in August 2021 at his mother’s home in Woburn as well as his mother’s alleged effort to intimidate a witness in her son’s case.
26-year-old Tyler Olivier’s defense attorney George Murphy and his mother – former Woburn District court case specialist Marie Laine Sylvestre – argued he didn’t pose a public safety risk despite Olivier’s lengthy history of restraining orders going back almost a decade.
That’s according to recordings of June and October 2022 bail hearings, which 25 Investigates obtained through a records request.
Prosecutors twice secured approval from judges in 2021 to keep Olivier behind bars for almost ten months on the stabbing charges. They argued Olivier posed too much of a public safety risk for release on bail – and prosecutors told a judge they would hold a trial swiftly.
But on June 15, a judge declined to keep holding Oliver and allowed him release on bail.
As 25 Investigates reported earlier this month, after his June release, prosecutors charged Olivier with allegedly conspiring with his mother in jailhouse phone calls to intimidate the female stabbing victim and offer her $10,000 to support Olivier’s release. A Woburn police report said no money was ultimately exchanged. Sylvestre worked for the court system for nearly 30 years before retiring in June.
Olivier was arrested again June 23, deemed dangerous and held behind bars. By late October, he posted bail and was released with conditions.
In February, Olivier pleaded not guilty to charges for his alleged role in a deadly shooting at his mother’s Woburn house that left a 22-year-old Cambridge man dead. He was ordered held on $50,000 bail for firearm possession and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He’s claimed self-defense.
And 19 months later, Olivier has yet to be held on trial. He’s pleaded not guilty to the stabbing charges, which include assault to murder. His stabbing trial is set for October. 25 Investigates asked a Middlesex County district attorney spokesperson case’s timeline. The office only confirmed it’s currently set for trial in October.
‘THE VICTIM… DOES NOT FEEL SAFE’
At the June 15 hearing at Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn, attorney Murphy stressed Olivier had no prior convictions.
Murphy also told the judge that all the women who filed restraining orders against Olivier no longer feared him.
“At the hearings that we had, all the individuals who had restraining orders, including his mother, all indicated that they were not afraid of Mr. Olivier,” Murphy said.
Murphy told the judge the female stabbing victim said she didn’t fear Olivier during a recent conversation with Sylvestre.
The victim – five months pregnant at the time of the 2021 stabbing - needed over 100 stitches for wounds that left her with facial scarring. She also obtained restraining orders against Olivier.
“I talked to Mr. Olivier’s mother this morning,” Murphy said. “She said she has talked to [the victim] a couple of days ago and indicated that [the victim] is not afraid if Mr. Olivier is admitted to bail with conditions.” 25 Investigates is not naming the victim in this case.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Laurence Pierce asked prosecutors to look into that claim.
Later on, Middlesex County prosecutor Alicia Walsh said Sylvestre was wrong.
“I believe that Ms. Sylvestre is misrepresenting the nature of the conversation that the two had earlier this morning,” Walsh said. “In fact, the victim stated she does not feel safe.”
Walsh also said Olivier shouldn’t have any direct or indirect contact with the stabbing victim under the restraining order.
“There shouldn’t be any type of contact even, you know, be that third party,” Walsh said, later adding: “And I think we’re also kind of walking a fine line here, between, you know, attempting to influence a witness.”
Sylvestre appeared via Zoom and told the judge she didn’t fear her son.
She said she previously obtained restraining orders against Olivier so he would stop speaking too loudly to her. Sylvestre said he has anger issues and needed treatment.
“We have a good relationship,” Sylvestre said. “He’s not able to get rehabilitation and get therapy if he’s in jail. It’s not offered to him. He needs help. He’s young, he can still make a life for himself.”
Murphy argued Olivier didn’t directly contact the stabbing victim.
“I understand she has trepidation,” Murphy said, referring to the victim. “I know Mr. Olivier from talking, we don’t even know where she lives, and have no desire whatsoever to ever contact her period.”
“THIS ‘GOOD CAUSE’ CLAUSE”
State law allows courts to hold people behind bars before they’re proven guilty of a crime – but only if a judge deems them “dangerous” at special hearings.
“The American criminal justice system bends over backwards not to have a system where you do your prison time first... you get your punishment first, and then we prove the case,” criminal defense attorney Peter Elikann said.
Courts weigh factors from employment to mental health treatment, to whether someone poses a flight risk or could otherwise obstruct justice.
“Does the person have family members who are going to take care of them? Is the person employed? Is the person getting treatment?” Elikann said.
Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers president John Amabile said the onus is on prosecutors to hold a trial if they want to incarcerate someone.
“I oppose the idea of using this device as a form of pretrial punishment,” Amabile said, later adding: “And if it does happen, there should be a process to make sure that the person is adjudicated promptly.”
After a hearing, a defendant can be held for up to 120 days for District Court and 180 days for Superior Court.
Olivier was held roughly 300 days on the stabbing charges.
Law says a judge can detain someone longer with “good cause.”
“The Commonwealth is requesting actually, that you continue to detain Mr. Olivier,” prosecutor Walsh said at the June hearing.
But Judge Pierce said there’s no clear guidance defining “good cause.”
“There is this ‘good cause’ clause in there,” Pierce said, adding: “We don’t have really any guidance as to what the meaning of that is.”
Pierce asked if prosecutors had any new evidence to back up their request to keep detaining Olivier.
Walsh said no – but stressed Olivier continued to pose a safety risk.
“Your honor, nothing has changed,” Walsh said. “There’s nothing additional to offer other than the fact that he continues in the Commonwealth position to present a risk.”
Walsh pointed to the timeline of the stabbing.
On Aug. 2, 2021, Woburn police arrived at Sylvestre’s home and issued summons to Olivier for allegedly threatening to kill the female victim and her unborn child.
The next day, Olivier allegedly stabbed the woman and her unborn child’s father.
In December 2021, a grand jury indicted Olivier for multiple felonies – including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a pregnant person.
“His behavior has escalated: from the threat the day before in August, to the next day actually stabbing and seriously injuring the people, the victims, the very next day – despite that police intervention the day before,” Walsh said. “One of the victims again being extra vulnerable: five months pregnant. It’s the Commonwealth position that there remains clear and convincing evidence that there aren’t any conditions that could reasonably assure the safety of these victims or the community at large.”
Later that June day, Judge Pierce set bail at $5,000 and said Olivier could live at his mother’s home. Olivier agreed to conditions including GPS, 24/7 home confinement and no-contact with the victims.
About one week later, police arrested Olivier and his mother, Sylvestre, on conspiracy and witness intimidation charges.
A Worcester special prosecutor is overseeing the conspiracy case to avoid a conflict of interest given Sylvestre’s longtime employment in Woburn court.
In late September, a Middlesex County Superior Court judge allowed Olivier’s release on bail for the stabbing charge. Bail was increased by $5,000, over the $5,000 Olivier paid in June.
The next month, District Court Judge Michael Vitali set bail at $5,000 for the witness intimidation charges.
Prosecutors, who asked for $10,000 bail, stressed Olivier was found dangerous previously.
“As the court’s aware, he was found dangerous on the Middlesex docket, and also found dangerous on this docket as well,” Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Scanlon said at the Oct. 21 bail hearing in Brockton District Court. “And it’s worth mentioning that these crimes were essentially planned while he was in custody.”
Defense attorney Murphy pointed to Olivier’s lack of convictions.
Murphy again claimed every woman who filed a restraining order against Olivier later said they didn’t fear him.
“Each one of these people that were subject to the restraining orders, were all in court … in support of Mr. Olivier and stating that they’re not afraid of him whatsoever,” Murphy said.
Murphy and Sylvestre and Olivier’s attorneys didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment by phone and email.
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