News 05.15.14

City of Boston to Pay Wrongly Convicted Man $5 Million

One decade after a Boston man’s murder conviction was vacated, the city has agreed to pay $5 million to settle his wrongful conviction lawsuit. Shawn Drumgold was convicted of the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Darlene Tiffany Moore and spent nearly 15 years of a life sentence behind bars before being freed in 2003.

 

The

Boston Globe

reported that the amount is believed to be the largest such settlement in the city’s history and that isn’t counting the more than $2.7 million in legal fees it spent on Drumgold’s case.

 

Moore was struck by bullets fired by two masked men who authorities said were aiming for a suspected gang member standing nearby. Drumgold testified that he was not near the shooting scene. A friend also testified on his behalf. Regardless of his alibi, Drumgold was convicted based largely on eyewitness testimony. Reporting by the

Globe

in 2003 revealed that Boston police had been told that a key eyewitness suffered from brain cancer at the trial and that another witness claimed that police fed him details about the murder. In response, the office of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley vacated Drumgold’s conviction on the grounds that his trial was legally flawed.

 

The

Globe

reports that following his release, Drumgold sued Francis “Mickey” Roache, Boston’s police commissioner at the time of the Moore shooting, and three Boston police officers who investigated the murder. A mistrial was declared when in 2009, a U.S. District Court jury found that police withheld evidence but couldn’t determine if that was the reason for Drumgold’s conviction.

 

Later that year, a new jury heard the case and ruled in favor of Drumgold, awarding him $14 million — $1 million for each year he spent in prison. That was overturned by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2013. Now, a full decade after Drumgold’s second legal battle began, his attorney, Rosemary C. Scapicchio, said the city’s offer was accepted because Drumgold believed it was a fair offer that would end the litigation. According to the

Globe

, Scapicchio, along with co-counsel Michael W. Reilly, will collect $1.6 million in fees.

 

Scapicchio said: “This is the first time that there was enough money on the table to talk about resolving [the lawsuit]. Five million dollars is a lot of money to walk away from. I am very confident that if we tried the case again, we would have gotten another [favorable] jury verdict. But Shawn’s been waiting 10 years for his case to get resolved. I think he got to the point where he just didn’t want to wait any longer.’’

 

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