Last week, an Orange County, N.Y., grand jury indicted Edward Holley for murder in the 2003 death of Megan McDonald. The Journal News reports on the conflicting interests of those in power and how they shaped the path toward prosecution. For two decades, New York State Police hunted McDonald’s killer. In the spring of 2023, they were prepared to make an arrest but they needed to overcome someone they were convinced had long undermined their investigation: Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler. Hoovler had a link to the McDonald homicide that he hadn’t divulged to the public for more than 15 years, and still hasn’t fully revealed. As a defense lawyer in 2008, before being elected DA, Hoovler approached the DA's office with details police said "only the killer would know." Hoovler said his unnamed client could tell investigators all about the night of the murder, about the weapon, a Stanley ball-peen hammer, where they could find it, and who was involved.
Hoovler said police could crack the case if the deal was right for his client: He suggested probation or a 3-to-9-year sentence for manslaughter. In 2010, his client, Andre Thurston, died of a drug overdose. In 2013, Hoovler was elected DA. A State Police report charges that Hoovler’s past representation of one of the alleged killers colored his decisions as district attorney and that he deliberately tampered with the investigation. The report also raises serious questions about Orange County Judge Craig Stephen Brown. It says Brown asked a police investigator if Brown’s brother-in-law was a suspect in the McDonald murder, and then went on to deny two search warrants. The report documents distrust police had for Hoovler and his office. It suggests the pattern of Hoovler’s actions led police at the highest levels to conclude they had to take extraordinary steps. The McDonald family's attorney, John Beatty, said, "The more I learn about David Hoovler the more apparent it is that his conduct now necessitates an investigation by an independent oversight body. And it's certainly time for the New York Legislature to revoke its near-impenetrable immunity for prosecutors where it can be proven that they have acted inappropriately and violated the rules governing ethics and the oath of their offices.”