Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Meet the Exonerated: Massachusetts Death Row

Laurence Adams spent 30 years in prison--one of those years on death row--for a crime he did not commit. Adams escaped execution because Massachusetts had abolished capital punishment soon after he was sentenced.

In March 1974, Laurence Adams was convicted and sentenced to death as one of allegedly three men who had beaten, robbed, and killed a subway porter in Boston in 1972.

In March 1973, Harry Ambers confessed to the crime and implicated Adams along with his own brother, Warren Ambers as his accomplices. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts eliminated the death penalty one year after Adams’ conviction and his sentence was changed to life imprisonment.

Adams was further implicated in the murder by the testimony of Prosecution witnesses, Wyatt Moore and his sister Lynne (Suzie) Moore, who testified that Adams had admitted to committing the crime with the Ambers brothers. Exculpatory evidence in the files of the Boston Police Department was not revealed until decades later. This included the fact that Suzie recanted her trial testimony, admitting that she had testified to help get her brother out of jail. Wyatt was being held on serious felony charges, (and he was released the day after Adams’ trial). In fact, Wyatt Moore was in prison on the same date Adams allegedly confessed his participation in the crime to the Moores. Police further withheld a sworn statement from a witness who said that Harry Ambers had confessed that he and his brother Warren alone had committed the murder.

In May, 2004, the Superior Court Justice allowed a Motion for Postconviction Relief and ordered a new trial because records, witness statements, and police reports that had not been disclosed were considered newly discovered evidence. However, in June the district attorney announced that, “the state was dropping the case because witnesses are dead and physical evidence is lacking,” (Boston Herald, June 8, 2004, at 26). Adams was released after 30 years of incarceration.

Lawyer Johnson Massachusetts Conviction: 1971, Charges Dismissed: 1982
Lawyer Johnson was sentenced to death by an all white jury for the murder of James Christian, a white victim. In 1982, the charges were dropped when a previously silent eyewitness, Dawnielle Montiero, who was 10 years old when the murder was committed, says the real killer, Kenneth Myers, was the man who testified against Johnson in two previous trials, the state's chief witness as the actual killer.

Johnson has said all along that he was not at the scene, but in two trials could not prove it so he spent ten years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit.

In 1983, a bill was filed to obtain compensation for Johnson's wrongful conviction. (Commonwealth v. Johnson, 429 N.E.2d 726 (1982)).
In an interview yesterday in his mother's house, where he has lived since he was released in February on bail, Johnson said that "anger destroys," but still he is bitter about the legal system that twice convicted him, once to death, and once to life in prison. He accused prosecutors of manipulating both the jury and the testimony because they cared only about getting a conviction, not about the truth.

"It was a legal lynching," he said. The prosecution, he said, "fabricated and conspired" with Meyers. Both juries were all white; the murder victim was white, too, and Johnson, who is black, said the racial fears of the jurors were played on by the prosecution.

"I totally believed in the system of justice," he said. "My faith in the system is gone."
Louis Greco died in prison following a 1965 Chelsea murder conviction and was posthumously exonerated.

Louis Greco joined the Army before World War II, became a professional prizefighter, and was sent off to combat in the South Pacific. He won two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and came back disabled for life with a shattered ankle and no future in the ring.

With a sixth grade education, he did what a lot of broken-down fighters did in that era, he sold his muscle as an enforcer and worked as a repo man for the mob.

In 1965, Louis Greco and his co-defendants were convicted in the murder of a small-time hoodlum named Teddy Deegan in a Chelsea alley. The prosecution charged Louis Greco with being the shooter and the three others as accessories to conspiracy. Greco was sentenced to death, as were Limone and Tameleo.

Greco submitted himself to eight different lie detector tests administered by outside experts and passed all eight of them. He wasn't even in Massachusetts at the time of the shooting; he was in Florida. Judge Gertner would declare that the FBI had deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence at the 1968 trial: namely, that its star witness, a contract killer for the Mob, was telling considerably less than the whole truth. The Justice Department task force's discovered compelling new evidence that Greco and his co-defendants were actually innocent of the murder of Edward Deegan.

Peter Limone Massachusetts Conviction: 1968, Charges Dismissed: 2001
Thirty -three years after being convicted and sentenced to death for a 1965 murder, Peter Limone's conviction was overturned (Commonwealth v. Limone, 2001 Mass. Super. LEXIS 7 (2001)) and the case against him officially dropped.

The move came as a result of a Justice Department task force's discovery of compelling new evidence that Limone and his co-defendants Joseph Salvati, Henry Tamelo, and Louis Greco were actually innocent of the murder of Edward Deegan.

In 1968, all four were convicted and Limone was sentenced to die in Massachusetts' electric chair, but was spared in 1974 when Massachusetts abolished the death penalty and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Salvati, who was released from prison in 1997 when the governor commuted his sentence, received word from prosecutors that they were dropping the case against him as well. Tamelo and Greco both died in prison.

At trial, the main witness against the four men was Joseph Barboza, a hit man cooperating with prosecutors, who later admitted that he had fabricated much of his testimony. The recently revealed FBI documents show that informants had told the FBI before the murder that Deegan would soon be killed and by whom, and a memorandum after the crime listed the men involved. Neither list included Limone, Salvati, Tamelo or Greco. (New York Times, 2/2/01 and Boston Herald, 1/21/01)

Henry "The Referee" Temeleo  was one of the founding members of the Boston criminal activities along with Phil Buccola and Joe Lombardo. Henry Tamaelo was also a member of the Bonanno Family and was the underboss of Family boss Raymond Patriarca in the 1950's till the end of the 1960's. In 1967 he and Patriarca were arrested for the murder of bookmaker Willie Marfeo. Before the trial's conclusion, Tameleo, along with Peter Limone, Louis Greco and Jospeh Salvati were indicted for the murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan on March 12, 1965. In 1968, all four men were found guily of the Deegan murder in the Superior Court of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and sentenced to death by the state. This penalty was later reduced to life in prison, where Tameleo died in 1985.

By 2000, all charges were dismissed against Tameleo and the other accused men, amid a flurry of accusations of a government frame-up and cover-up extending over thirty years. In 2007, a federal judge in Boston awarded damages of $101.7 million to the four men who were wrongly convicted for Deegan's murder in 1965 after Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents H. Paul Rico, Dennis Condon, John Morris, and John Connolly took affirmative steps to withhold evidence of their innocence in order to protect FBI informants Vincent Flemmi and Joseph Barboza. $13 million went to the estate of Enrico Tameleo, specifically his son, Saverio, as administrator of the Tameleo estate, and Tameleo's wife Jeanette.


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