Defense Claims Investigators Ignored Other Viable Murder Suspects
Prosecution expected to rest its case today in murder trial of Michael Ferreira.
A defense attorney for defendant Michael Ferreira aggressively cross-examined the lead detective looking into the 1969 murder of Johnny McCabe, suggesting that she ignored two viable suspects before making arrests in April 2011.
Ferreira, Edward Alan Brown and Walter Shelley were arrested for the kidnapping and murder of the Tewksbury teen after Brown confessed during interrogation by Lowell Police and State Police investigators in March 2011.
Ferreira is the first of the three to stand trial, charged with 1st degree murder in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn.
During cross-examination, attorney Eric Wilson repeatedly asked Lowell Det. Linda Coughlin about Richard Santos and Robert Morely two men who were considered possible suspects during the early stages of the investigation. Coughlin admitted that after taking over the investigation in 2011, she did not actively pursue Morely and Santos as suspects.
Wilson alluded to a report filed by a detective previously in charge of the investigation that identified Morely as a "strong suspect" in the case.
"That same report identified Michael Ferreira as the prime suspect," Coughlin.
Wilson also hammered Coughlin regarding her interrogation of Brown of multiple occasions in February and March 2011, none of which were recorded. Wilson asked the detective if it was Lowell Police policy to record interrogations with suspects.
"I didn't know he was a suspect until he confessed," said Coughlin.
Sometimes sounding more like Brown's attorney, Wilson pressed Coughlin about the flow of the interrogation, suggesting that Brown only confessed and implicated Ferreira and Shelley after hours of relentless questioning. He also suggested that Brown's final version of the events of Sept. 26, 1969 was less his memories and more suggestions given to him by Coughlin.
"Absolutely not," she said.
In exchange for his testimony in the case, Brown is being allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter and will be sentenced to 10 years probation.
Also on Tuesday, jurors heard excerpts of Ferreira's 2008 Grand Jury testimony, during which he said he and his girlfriend (and future wife) Nancy Williams had given Johnny McCabe a ride earlier in the evening of Sept. 26, 1969 and later hung out with Walter Shelley, Edward Brown and Shelley's girlfriend (and future wife) Marla Shiner.
In his Grand Jury testimony, Ferriera makes no mention of seeing McCabe later in the evening.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas O'Reilly is expected to rest the prosecution's case today. The defense is not expected to call many witnesses and the case could go to the jury as early as Thursday.