I’m reading the news Saturday. I come across an article that told me the jig’s up on the federal prosecutors game of deciding to pick out some person or people they don’t like and then making sordid deals to get them. Well, the jig may not be up in federal court where the judges, juries, prosecutors, and court personnel all pull the boat together for the most part but at least it is in the state courts; or at least in the state court in Worcester County.
Sadly there is no pre-condition in federal court on allowing witnesses to testify. A witness who you could take judicial notice of that he is a habitual liar is allowed to take the stand and say, “yes, I’ve lied all my life but believe me this time I’m telling the truth.” It just so happens the witness is “telling the truth” in circumstances where the witness is being paid. The payment is in the form of a good deal from the prosecutor who is rewarding this criminal for telling the story the prosecutor wants to hear.
I’ve pointed out before there is no consequences if the habitual liar is still lying to get “the deal.’ Usually the prosecutor’s case depends on that witness. While the witness says he will be prosecuted for perjury if he lies, he knows that is another lie because that is the last thing the prosecutor would do because it would undermine his case.
We’ve seen that in the Whitey Bulger matters where Frank Salemme lied at Connolly trial about murdering people yet everyone pooh-poohed the lie as if it didn’t matter when in fact Salemme’s credibility was crucial to proving several counts. We saw it throughout Connolly’s and Bulger’s trials where common sense showed the murderers and serial liars were putting Whitey into their crimes with no independent corroborative evidence. We had to listen to Steve Flemmi testify for the same prosecutor who told the Court of Appeals he was a liar. We even saw Whitey charged with Debbie Davis’s murder when the prosecutor had evidence that his star witness Steve Flemmi told another star witness John Martorano that he strangled her.
Fortunately the federal system is not that of the state. A Worcester jury last Friday returned a not guilty of murder verdict after deliberating for three hours, just enough time for a leisurely lunch.
The defendant was charged with murdering a guard, Edward P. Morlock, Sr., working for an armored car company and was arrainged in December 2016. You probably don’t remember any such persons being murdered lately, not do I. This murder happen in 1991, over 25 years prior to the arraingment. So how did the investigation of it get resurrected after so many years? The usual explanations were offered such as that “it’s a case that always bothered me so I took a fresh look at it.”
In any event the defendant was charged with it two years ago, held without bail since that time, and started his trial on the Monday before the jury verdict. Not that complaining about being locked up all that time would do him any good, he didn’t bother to complain but bided his time.
The defendant was no stranger to being behind bars. There is a term for guys like him who have spent long bits in prison. I think it’s “institutionalized.” This guy had recently served a twenty-one year sentence for attempted armed robbery. Unlike Whitey Bulger who got 20 years but served nine or Pat Nee who served a small part of his sentence for attempted armed robbery or other “tough guys” who sang for their freedom this guy did his full sentence.
He had plenty of information that the law enforcement authorities wanted. Because he wouldn’t play the game, you know, become a rat and then use the excuse like John Martorano or Kevin Weeks that “you can’t rat on a rat” he was cut no slack. So here he found himself back behind the prison walls without any hope of having wings of an angel to fly over them. The jury was impaneled on a Monday and went home on a Friday as did the defendant. The judge when telling him he could go, “Good luck, sir.” He replied, “thanks!”
He didn’t testify. He would have been quizzed too much on cross-examination about his vocation which is robbing armored trucks and his avocation spending time in prison. He sat back, listened to the government’s case, and heard his lawyer punching hole into it.
The Commonwealth, this was a state prosecution, produced three witnesses who implicated him in the robbery. One, Ronald Martel, who said he was the driver of the get away car during the robbery, had been given immunity to testify. He admitted in cross-examination that his testimony in federal court in 1992 about an attempted robbery case in Newburyport was “a complete lie.” This time he said “If I commit perjury,, the deal is off. So, I have to tell the truth.” We’ve heard that before.