April 12, 2007
Wrongfully convicted man sues Boston police
Says detectives withheld evidence
By Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe
One of the last men sentenced to death in Massachusetts, who served 30 years
in prison before a judge threw out his conviction in 2004, filed a civil
rights lawsuit yesterday against Boston police in federal court.
Laurence M. Adams's lawsuit, the latest in a series of civil rights claims
filed against the city by men wrongly convicted of violent crimes, alleges
that three Boston police officers violated the plaintiff's constitutional
rights by withholding exculpatory evidence in the 1972 fatal beating of an
MBTA porter during a robbery.
The evidence included reports of other people who bragged about being
involved in the slaying and a statement from a witness who said that two
brothers committed the crime.
"At the time of his release from prison, Mr. Adams was over 50 years old,
and he had spent two thirds of his life, over 30 years, in prison for a
crime he did not commit," the 22-page complaint says.
The complaint alleges that the withholding of exculpatory evidence was part
of a pattern of misconduct by Boston detectives that resulted in numerous
wrongful convictions in recent years. Adams was the ninth person since 1997
to successfully challenge a conviction in Suffolk County.
His suit was filed three weeks after Anthony Powell, who served 12 1/2 years
for a rape he did not commit, filed a similar suit against the Boston police
in federal court.
A Boston police spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday and referred
inquiries to Mayor Thomas M. Menino. A spokeswoman for the mayor said the
city does not comment on pending litigation.
Adams, who lives in Plymouth, was sentenced to death in 1974 after a Suffolk
jury found him guilty of murder in the slaying of James C. Corry at the
Essex Street subway station. Adams was sentenced to death, but the Supreme
Judicial Court later ruled the state's death penalty statute
Adams told the Globe in 2004 that during the 30 years he spent behind bars
-- 21 of them in MCI-Cedar Junction, the last nine in MCI-Norfolk -- his
faith in God and in himself kept alive the hope that he would not die in
prison, even after the SJC upheld his conviction in 1978.
After years of legal efforts by his lawyer, John J. Barter, Superior Court
Judge Robert A. Mulligan ruled in April 2004 that Boston police had evidence
that would have cast doubt on Adams's guilt and ordered a new trial.
In one police report, the key prosecution witness, Wyatt Moore, told
investigators that he learned information about the slaying while
incarcerated in Billerica with one of two brothers now believed responsible
for Corry's slaying. Another report showed that Moore was incarcerated on
Deer Island when Adams allegedly confessed to him in Dorchester.
Mulligan also pointed out that Suffolk prosecutors cut deals with Moore --
who was facing long prison terms for weapons charges, among other crimes --
as well as with his sister but never told the defense or the jury that the
two would benefit from testifying against Adams.
After Mulligan threw out the conviction, prosecutors dropped the charges
Source : Boston Globe