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News :: Police and Prisons
1995 Conviction Overturned for Sean K. Ellis - Framed for a Boston Police Officer's Murder
08 May 2015
Two decades in prison.
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Sean K. Elis.png
Suffolk Superior Court Justice Carol Ball has overturned the 1995 conviction of first degree murder of Sean K. Ellis. Boston Police Detective John J. Mulligan was sleeping on a paid security detail when someone shot and killed him in his patrol car in a Boston neighborhood shopping mall parking lot. Sean K. Ellis lived in the area and went to a store in the mall to buy diapers for a toddler at home after socializing with friends. The prosecution claimed that Ellis decided on the spur of the moment during a trip to buy things for the baby to kill a police officer asleep in a police car in front of a number of shops and customers.

The police claimed Sean K. Ellis' motive for the spur of the moment killing was the desire to take a police officer's side arm as a 'trophy.' At the first trial for the murder, the jury was not unanimous, so a second trial was held. Again the jury could not agree to convict. After two hung juries the prosecution won the third time in court. The third jury believed the prosecution and police, and Sean K. Ellis has been in prison for two decades based on that implausible story. Judge Ball's seventy page ruling on the case noted merit to the many questions raised by attorney Rosemary Scapichio in a filing for a new trial made in March 2013. Judge Ball heard seven days of testimony before making her decision.

Attorny Scapicchio said that many facts that pointed to Sean K. Ellis's innocence were held back by the police and prosecution who wanted a narrative that pointed circumstanstially to Sean K. Ellis. There was a detailed tip from another Boston police officer about two 'rogue' Boston police officers who were robbing people, breaking into apartments, and threatening people with their power as police officers. The Boston Police Hotline telephone reporting system had dozens of people call in with information that was not investigated.

Attorney Scapicchio also argued that evidence links two Boston Police Officers who are convicted criminals - Officer Kenneth Acerra and Officer Walter Robinson - with Officer John Mulligan. In 1998 the crime spree of Officer Acerra and Officer Robinson ended as they were convicted in court of robbery and violence that amounted to racketering. Yet, Officer Acerra and Officer Robinson were key investigators into Officer John Mulligan's murder, and also presented key evidence against Sean K. Ellis in court in 1995.

All of these facts would indicate that Sean K. Ellis should be released and his conviction overturned, or that he be given a new trial that fairly evaluates all the evidence. Police and prosecutors have a long history of claiming 'infallibility' in all past cases, and take umbrage at the very idea that their work might be re-examined.

The trial of Sean K. Ellis might have been different in 1995, Judge Ball agreed, if they had been presented with some of the evidence that the police and prosecutors deliberately withheld.

Now, the government has a month to decide if it will retry Sean K. Ellis
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