Justice for Sean Ellis

Sean K. Ellis spent nearly 22 years in prison for the 1993 murder of Boston Det. John Mulligan. Ellis claimed innocence, and in 2015 his conviction was overturned--a ruling unanimously affirmed by the Mass. SJC in 2016. A retrial - Ellis' 4th for this crime - is now scheduled for Sept. 9, 2019.

CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED, ELLIS RELEASED ON BAIL - 2015

"This is a case where justice has not been done." -- Judge Carol S. Ball

On May 5, 2015, Suffolk Superior Court Justice Carol S. Ball vacated the 1995 convictions of Sean K. Ellis for the 1993 murder and armed robbery of Boston Detective John J. Mulligan, paving the way for a new trial. 

Judge Ball affirmed virtually all grounds brought forth by attorney Rosemary Scapicchio in her March 2013 motion for a new trial, finding plentiful evidence that "justice was not done":

"The court concludes that the newly discovered evidence of Detectives Robinson, Brazil, and Acerra's conflict of interest and the BPD's failure to follow up on leads implicating third-party suspects is material, credible, and would have been a real factor in the jury's deliberations in the Commonwealth's case against Ellis. 

Indeed, even without the third-party culprit evidence, in this judge's opinion, the evidence of Detectives Robinson, Brazil, and Acerra's bias would have played an important role in the jury's deliberations.  Accordingly, the court concludes that this is a case where justice has not been done. 

Therefore, Ellis's conviction must be reversed and he is entitled to receive a new trial."

  Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts immediately filed its intention to appeal Judge Ball's ruling. Should the appeal go forward and be denied, and should prosecutors choose to retry Ellis, it would be his fourth trial: His September 1995 conviction was won only at his third trial, after two previous trials ended in mistrial due to hung juries.

 

READ JUDGE CAROL BALL'S RULING TO REVERSE SEAN ELLIS'S CONVICTIONS

(all penned marks on document are the website author's)

 

  Sean's mother, Mary "Jacke" Ellis, with daughters Sharday (rear) and Janelle. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Sean's mother, Mary "Jacke" Ellis, with daughters Sharday (rear) and Janelle. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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Emotional reactions followed Judge Ball's decision to grant Sean Ellis bail on May 12, 2015.  His mother, Mary "Jackie" Ellis, and attorney Rosemary Scapicchio take questions from the press, below.  Photos courtesy of Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis Univ.

JUNE 3, 2015 -- SEAN ELLIS IS RELEASED FROM PRISON

 

June 3, 2015. A joyful day in Suffolk Superior Court for Sean Ellis, his family, legal team, and supporters, as he is released on bail after serving more than half his life in prison. 

In this video clip, Sean expresses his gratitude, as does his mother, Jackie Ellis; Sean's appellate attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio, speaks to the waiting press.

Sean K. Ellis, whose conviction for the 1993 murder of Boston Detective John J. Mulligan was overturned in Suffolk Superior Court on May 5, 2015, was released on June 3, 2015, on $50,000 bail and the condition that he wear a GPS monitoring device.

Convicted in 1995 at his third trial, after two mistrials due to hung juries, Ellis has always maintained his innocence. Judge Carol S. Ball, in granting his retrial motion, ruled that "justice was not done" in his case, due to the taint of three corrupt detectives who played key roles in the homicide investigation and the failure of prosecutors to disclose and investigate substantive leads.

Ellis, now 41, has been incarcerated for nearly 22 years. While in prison he became certified as a paralegal and received training as a peer counselor of at-risk youth.

He intends to spend time with his family adjusting to civilian life.

* * *

The Commonwealth appealed Judge Ball's ruling, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) heard arguments on May 5, 2016.  In a ruling issued by the Chief Justice on September 9, 2016, the SJC unanimously upheld Judge Ball's decision to vacate Ellis's conviction. (See "SJC Hearing & Ruling Affirmed 2016" on this website.)

Suffolk County prosecutors declared their intention to try Ellis a fourth time and initially set the date for October 18, 2018, but have since continued his case until further notice.

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 Free at last, June 3, 2015. Sean Ellis leaves Boston's Suffolk Superior Court holding his mother, Mary's, hand. Arrested at age 19, he spent more than half his life in prison for a crime he maintains he did not commit.  (Getty Images)

Free at last, June 3, 2015. Sean Ellis leaves Boston's Suffolk Superior Court holding his mother, Mary's, hand. Arrested at age 19, he spent more than half his life in prison for a crime he maintains he did not commit. (Getty Images)

Copyright 2013 Elaine A. Murphy. All rights reserved.