SALEM — A Salem Superior Court judge on Monday doubled the bail of a Lawrence man charged with helping another man dump the body of a homeless woman in the Spicket River last month, during a hearing where some new details emerged about the case.
Nelson Gilles, 23, of 25 Bowdoin St., appeared via videoconference from the Middleton Jail with an attorney, asking Judge Jeffrey Karp to reduce his bail.
But after hearing about Gilles' alleged assistance to Giovanni Lebron, 24, in disposing of the body of Nicole Connor, Karp doubled the original bail, from $50,000 to $100,000.
Prosecutor Lindsay Nasson, who told Karp she is in the process of presenting the case to a grand jury for indictments against the two men, said investigators believe Connor, 24, was killed at Lebron's apartment at 20 Daisy St.
Lebron has been charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bail.
A cellphone seized from Lebron after his arrest contained Facebook Messenger texts between Lebron and Gilles, the prosecutor said, revealing that Gilles had "intimate knowledge" of what had occurred.
Police then compared Gilles' photo to images seen on video surveillance that captured two men, one of them allegedly Lebron, carrying Connor's body to the Spicket River between 1 and 2 a.m. on July 25.
The second man, prosecutors believe, was Gilles, who was wearing the same glasses and clothing as the person on the video when he was taken into custody.
Nasson said they quickly found Gilles at home, where he lives with his mother and spends most of his time playing video games.
Nasson told the judge that Gilles is facing seven years in prison if found guilty of acting as an accessory after the fact to the murder.
"It doesn't get much worse than helping dispose of a murdered woman," Nasson told Karp.
The details offered by Nasson Monday are the first significant pieces of information made public in the case, after Lawrence District Court Judge Mark Sullivan banned media from Lebron's hospital arraignment, claiming that the presence of journalists would violate medical privacy laws and the "decorum" of the hospital and that the room was too small. Sullivan also granted a motion to impound, or seal, the police reports in the case, and a clerk erroneously failed to make a recording of the proceeding.
Gilles' lawyer, Paul Cahill, urged Karp to reduce his client's bail to no more than $15,000, saying Gilles has strong ties to the community and a job waiting for him at his brother's landscaping business if released.
Gilles, said the lawyer, had been working for UPS but lost that job. He was living with his mother and two of his sisters before his arrest and volunteering for Cor Unum, a meal center affiliated with St. Patrick Church.
Cahill also questioned the strength of the case, saying that while Gilles may have had some information about Connor's death, that does not establish that he was involved. He also suggested that the officers' identification of Gilles on the video surveillance was not unequivocal.
Karp, who had read reports of the case prior to the hearing, disagreed.
He then announced that he would increase the bail. While that is rarely done in bail appeals, it is within a Superior Court judge's authority, and a risk defendants take when they challenge the bail set by a District Court judge.
Gilles, who is not expected to make the increased bail, is due in Lawrence District Court again Thursday.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.