Attorney Mark Lee, Paula Bell, Bill Smolinski and Janice Smolinski in New Haven Superior Court.
Story By John Murray
Janice Smolinski sat at the defense table with her daughter, Paula Bell, and Attorney Mark Lee, and listened to Madeline Gleason testify under oath about the events surrounding the disappearance of Billy Smolinski. Gleason had been dating Billy Smolinski at the time of his mysterious disappearance and was named a suspect in police reports written by the Woodbridge Police Department in the Spring of 2005.
The report stated that Madeline Gleason was a suspect until she passed a polygraph test, and six years later, she has still not taken a polygraph test. But in a bizarre twist Gleason and Smolinski came face to face in New Haven Superior Court today, November 29th, with Smolinski seated at the defense table, and Gleason playing the role of victim. Gleason has sued Janice Smolinski and Paula Bell for allegedly harassing her in the months and years following Billy Smolinski’s disappearance,
Gleason testified in court that the Smolinski family has repeatedly accused her of murdering Billy Smolinski, fabricated a love triangle, harassed her, defamed her, threatened to kill her and turned her into an emotional wreck. She has asked for $115,000 in damages.
In a pre-trial hearing in Judge Jonathon Silbert’s chambers there was an effort to get the Smolinskis to offer a small amount of money to Gleason to make the lawsuit go away. The Smolinksis refused.
The trial started an hour later in courtroom 5-D and was presided over by Judge Tom Cordino. Gleason’s lawyer, Attorney John Williams, called several witnesses before Gleason took the stand. Gleason, dressed in black and wearing black leather boots with tassels, expressed anger, cried, pleaded and told the court she feared the Smolinskis might harm her 13 year old son. Gleason testified that Janice Smolinski had repeatedly confronted her, climbed into her car, swore at her and threatened to kill her.
While listening to Gleason’s testimony Janice Smolinski said her heart began to pound and she began to shake. “I could not believe the lies coming out of her mouth,” Smolinski said. “I knew it was going to bad, but this was way over the top.”
Moments later Smolinski decided enough was enough and she exploded. “Stop it,” she yelled, interupting the court proceedings, “that’s my son your talking about, my son,” and she began to sob.
Janice’s husband, Bill, leapt to his feet in the back of the courtroom and yelled, “That’s enough,” he said pointing at Gleason, “you’re lying.” And he stormed out of the courtroom.
Judge Cordino called the lawyers into his chambers and then Bill Smolinski barged back into the courtroom and rushed the defense table to console his wife. Minutes later the lawyers emerged to talk to their clients and try and calm the situation down. Judge Cordino came out and said that in a case with such raw emotion it was understood that it was “sometimes impossible to control them.”
During the first day of the trial the Smolinskis had to sit and listen to Gleason make the case that she had been harassed and was due monetary damages. Several of the witnesses called by Gleason’s side contradicted themselves and had trouble remembering dates, and Attorney John Williams produced no evidence backing up Gleason’s allegations of harassment. The trial will resume next Monday when the Smolinskis have the opportunity to counter Gleason’s version of events.
“This was a tough day,” Janice Smolinski said, ” we were all shaken in the courtroom today. “They’re making a lot of allegations against us, but they have no proof. We’ll get our chance in court on Monday.”
(The Observer will publish more details about the first day of the trial in the days ahead)