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Former public defender death ruled accidental

Thomas Ullman

Update: Officials in New York State have ruled Ullman’s death accidental.


NEW HAVEN  — A former chief public defender known for taking on difficult cases has died during while hiking in the Adirondacks.

The New Haven Register reports 67-year-old Thomas Ullmann died Friday and was found by another hiker on a trail near Indian Lake, New York on Saturday.

His body was found on the OK Slips Falls Trail, located about 74 miles southwest of Lake Placid.

Ullman was on the defense team for triple murderer Steven Hayes, convicted for his role in the Cheshire home invasion case where Jennifer Hawke Petit was killed along with her daughters Michaela Petit and Hayley Petit.

Ullmann was a well-known public defender who retired from his job last August following a 32-year career with the New Haven Public Defender’s office.

New York State Police have not released the cause of Ullmann’s death.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a statement:

On April 13 at 5:30 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance in locating a 67-year-old male hiker from a seasonal residence in Olmstedville. Mr. Thomas Ullmann had not returned from a hike to OK Slip Falls by the time he had told family members he would be back. Forest Rangers responded and located tracks believed to be left by the subject. At 11:03 p.m., Forest Rangers located Mr. Ullman deceased on a ledge part way down a gorge wall. New York State Police and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office were alerted and responded to the scene. At the request of State Police, the coroner authorized Rangers to recover the subject and transport him out of the wilderness. With the temperature dropping and icy weather moving in, Rangers worked overnight utilizing high angle rope techniques to complete the recovery. Mr. Ullman was turned over to the Hamilton County coroner at 9:49 a.m. on April 14. State Police are investigating the incident.