CHARGES DROPPED 2018
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Elsewhere on this website: Elaine A. Murphy’s analysis: “The D.A.’s Omissions and Untruths 2018.”
CHARGES AGAINST SEAN ELLIS DROPPED ON DECEMBER 18, 2018
On Dec. 17, 2018, D.A. John Pappas and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross held an unusual afternoon, live-streaming press conference to announce the Commonwealth would formally drop all charges against Sean Ellis for the 1993 murder and robbery of Boston Police Detective John Mulligan the following day, Dec. 18. Yet the officials did not exonerate Ellis. They emphasized their belief, shared by the victim’s family, that he had a role in the murder, but said they’ve concluded a retrial would be unlikely to result in conviction due to the “fading memories” of witnesses and the corruption of three investigating detectives that was “inextricably intertwined with the investigation and critical witnesses in the case.”
Ellis was convicted of the crimes in 1995 at his third trial (his first two trials ended in mistrial, with hung juries on the murder and robbery charges) but his convictions were overturned in 2015 when Suffolk Superior Court Justice Carol Ball ruled “justice was not done” in his trial, based on new evidence put forward by Ellis’s attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio.
A co-defendant, Terry Patterson, was convicted of the Mulligan murder/robbery in 1995, but in 2000 his convictions were overturned by the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) based on an error by his trial lawyer (who failed to recuse herself and testify as a witness regarding a material false statement allegedly made by a police officer). In December 2005 the Mass. SJC dismissed the fingerprint evidence used against Patterson as “unscientific” and “unreliable”; three months later, Suffolk County prosecutors offered Patterson the opportunity to plead guilty to manslaughter and, in return, be released from prison for time served. He accepted.
Notably, in 2016, Suffolk County prosecutors offered Sean Ellis the same plea deal they gave Patterson ten years earlier. Ellis refused it, choosing to place his fate in the hands of yet a fourth jury panel rather than “plead guilty to a crime I didn’t commit.”
ATTORNEY ROSEMARY SCAPICCHIO TAKES ON D.A. PAPPAS IN FIERY PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER ELLIS’S RELEASE
THIS VIDEO WAS TAKEN AFTER THE 12/18/19 HEARING IN BOSTON’S SUFFOLK SUPERIOR COURT AT WHICH CHARGES WERE FORMALLY DROPPED AGAINST SEAN ELLIS AND THE REMOVAL OF HIS GPS MONITORING DEVICE WAS AUTHORIZED.
ELLIS’S ATTORNEY, ROSEMARY SCAPICCHIO, ANSWERS REPORTERS’ QUESTIONS; ELLIS HOLDS TIGHT TO HIS MOTHER, MARY “JACKIE” ELLIS; HIS SECOND APPELLATE ATTORNEY, JILLISE MCDONOUGH, IS TO HIS RIGHT.
In the video:
—Sean Ellis expresses his elation over now being free and not having to face a fourth trial.
—Attorney Rosemary Scapiccio slams Suffolk County DA John Pappas for the “politically motivated” timing and manner of Ellis’s release, three weeks before DA-elect Rachael Rollins takes office, “so he could put his own spin on it.”
—Scapicchio also contests Pappas’ positive appraisal of police and prosecutors’ conduct (in his press conference the previous day) as unwarranted and untrue:
“The District Attorney’s office held that press conference yesterday to get out ahead of what we think Rachael Rollins would have done when she took over on this case. We think Rachael Rollins would not have praised the District Attorney’s office for their work on this case. Rachael Rollins would not have praised the Boston Police Department for their work on this case. And by issuing this press release yesterday, three weeks before Rachael Rollins takes office, they were able to get their version of the story out there. And their version of the story conflicts absolutely with what Judge Ball found and what the SJC found.”
Three investigators of the 1993 Mulligan homicide, Kenneth Acerra, Walter Robinson, and John Brazil, collected virtually all the evidence used against Ellis. Five months after Ellis’s conviction, all three were exposed as perpetrators of an extensive, ongoing drug-dealer robbery scheme. Brazil flipped on the other two men in exchange for immunity from federal prosecution; Acerra and Robinson were indicted on federal charges in 1997, and both entered guilty pleas in 1998 in return for three-year federal prison sentences.
Attorney Rosemary Scapicchio, in her 2013 retrial motion for Ellis, presented federal grand jury testimony from the above investigation showing that victim John Mulligan was criminally linked with the trio in their enterprise of falsifying search warrants, robbing drug dealers of drugs and money, and falsifying police reports. This conflict of interest caused Judge Carol Ball to overturn Ellis’s convictions in 2015, ruling “justice was not done” at his trials. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously upheld Judge Ball’s ruling in 2016, calling Mulligan’s criminal tie-in with the three investigators of his murder “a game changer.”
Despite this documentary evidence, DA Pappas stated publicly in his December 17 press conference that prosecutors do not believe the late Det. Mulligan was involved in Acerra, Robinson, and Brazil’s “criminal schemes.” Pappas further stated that prosecutors in the three 1995 Ellis trials, Phyllis Broker and Jill Furman, were “the model of professionalism,“ and “hid nothing from the jury or the defense” despite Judge Ball’s other finding, affirmed by the state’s highest court in 2016. that prosecutors withheld from Ellis’s trial lawyers the existence of multiple, detailed tips that police received over their telephone hotline, as well as an explosive tip from an investigating detective that Mulligan’s murder was perpetrated by a fellow officer.
To read Dorchester Reporter Publisher/Editor Bill Forry’s take on Ellis’s dropped charges, in link below flip to page 10.