Crime

What we know about the trial of alleged murderer Julia Enright

Julia Enright, 24, is on trial for the 2018 murder of Brandon Chicklis, whom she allegedly stabbed to death in a treehouse outfitted with restraints.

Julia Enright is brought into Gardner District Court for arraignment, Tuesday, July 24, 2018 in Worcester, Mass. Christine Peterson/Worcester Telegram & Gazette via AP

In the summer of 2018, Julia Enright, then 21, was accused of stabbing former classmate Brandon Chicklis, 20, of Westminster, to death in a treehouse near her Ashburnham home and dumping his body on the side of a road.

On Monday, her jury trial began in Worcester Superior Court, with prosecutors alleging a calculated crime and the defense claiming Enright killed Chicklis in self defense after he sexually assaulted her, the Telegram & Gazette reported. 

The trial is expected to take several weeks, include admission of many pieces of evidence, and testimony from multiple witnesses.

What happened in 2018

Chicklis left his Westminster home on June 23 to visit family in Windham, N.H., Boston.com reported in 2018, but he never made it, and his family reported him missing the next day. Police couldn’t find evidence he’d ever arrived there, and eventually found his gray Honda Civic about 40 miles west of Windham in a shopping center on June 29. His body wasn’t found until July 10, discovered by a jogger about six miles up the road, and New Hampshire authorities ruled his death a homicide.

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Authorities also said his phone records place him at 171 Packard Hill Road in Ashburnham on June 23, a property that belongs to Enright’s father. Boston.com reported that Chicklis and Enright had known each other, as former classmates at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School. In 2018, a family member of Chicklis told NBC10 the two had dated briefly. 

When questioned, Enright told police she made plans to meet Chicklis at her home and they spent the day drinking alcohol before Chicklis left to buy drugs and didn’t come back. Though Enright denied being with Chicklis in the treehouse or her car that day, investigators found Chicklis’s blood on the stairs leading to the treehouse, inside the treehouse, under the treehouse, and in Enright’s car.

“It was apparent that the treehouse had recently been cleaned and a new rug had been placed on the floor,” court documents obtained by MassLive read. “When the rug was removed, it appeared that blood had seeped down through the floorboards.”

Enright was arrested at the end of July and held without bail on a murder charge, according to the Worcester District Attorney’s Office. She entered a not guilty plea.

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Chicklis was remembered as a kind, loving person. He was a former Eagle Scout who loved the outdoors, and in school studied to become an HVAC technician, The Gardner News reported.

What early arguments allege in Enright’s trial

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette covered the first day of the trial on Monday, which featured opening arguments and testimony from several witnesses.

Though defense lawyer Louis Badwey told jurors Enright acted in self defense following a sexual assault, he did not allude to any evidence other than her claim. Badwey called Chicklis a rapist at one point, alleging that while Enright had invited Chicklis over to engage in secual activity, she got second thoughts, and when she refused him Chicklis sexually assaulted her with his fingers.

According to the Telegram & Gazette, Enright closed her eyes and stabbed during the assault with a knife she typically carried with her, and then ran out of the treehouse, not returning for 40 minutes.

The prosecution alleged the murder was premeditated, and intends to show that Enright manipulated Chicklis into coming to the treehouse that day, telling him not to let anyone else know he was coming and that she had a surprise for him. The prosecution told jurors Enright also texted her boyfriend, John Lind, that she may have a surprise for him, but that she couldn’t text about it.

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She also worked to establish an alibi, prosecutors said Monday. The night of the murder, she went out to sushi with Lind and texted Chicklis’s phone, “Why didn’t you show up to meet me?” hours after killing him and putting his body in a trash bag. Badwey didn’t dispute this, and admitted the two attempted to cover up what she’d done.

What pretrial arguments revealed

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported a number of details about Enright and the case based on the arguments over which evidence the jury should be allowed to see.

Prosecutors allege Enright, who worked as a phlebotomist at Quest Diagnostics, also had a side business as a dominatrix and manipulated Chicklis into going to the treehouse to kill him. The treehouse was apparently outfitted with a system of restraints.

Prosecutors say she had many “deviant” interests, including sexual cutting and bloodplay, a fascination with animal bones, blood, and knives. Authorities apparently found vials of blood, a used condom collection, and dead animals left to decompose in cases when they searched her home. Prosecutors also allege Enright attempted to bribe Planned Parenthood to let her keep a fetus she aborted so she could “play with” its bones.

According to the Telegram & Gazette, the judge ruled that Enright’s love of bone art, some dominatrix photos, photos of her knives, vials of blood, “dominatrix outfit and paraphernalia,” and a “plastic tub with animal carcasses in various states of rotting” will all be admissible. Jurors can also see parts of Enright’s interrogation where she discusses certain sexual acts she performed with her boyfriend, them cutting each other, sexual practices “including knife play” and her dominatrix business. 

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Inadmissible are some photos of a “bucket of organs” and “carcasses with organs showing,” and a video of Enright “licking blood from a body part.” Some of Enright’s writings and journal entries will also not be admissible.
Lind, Enright’s boyfriend then and now, is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called as a witness, though he has not been charged, the Telegram & Gazette reported.

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