The prosecution in the murder trial of Michael Ferreira continued to build its case on Thursday, calling one witness who identified a car allegedly used in the crime and another who testified that the suspect actually confessed to her.
Ferreira, of Salem NH, is one of three men charged in connection with the 1969 death of Tewksbury teen Johnny McCabe. Along with Walter Shelley and Edward Brown, Ferreira is accused of kidnapping McCabe off the street and taking him to a vacant lot in Lowell, where they allegedly tied him up and gagged him in such a way that it lead to his death by asphyxiation.
During questioning from Assistant District Attorney Tom O'Reilly in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Elaine (Callahan) Sutton testified that in October 1969 she was in a car, travelling back from New Hampshire with Ferreira and their friend Jerry Adair, when the topic of McCabe's murder came up. Sutton testified Ferreira told her that police believed he had done and she asked him why.
"He said, 'because I don't have an alibi for that night,'" she said. Later in the conversation, Sutton testified she had mused what had happened to McCabe or who was responsible.
"And what did he say?" asked O'Reilly.
"I did it," said Spencer, adding that Ferreira's tone was serious.
Under cross-examination from Ferreira's Attorney Eric Wilson, Sutton acknowledged that Ferreira quickly retracted his statement and claimed he was "just kidding."
Earlier, under direct examination, Sutton talked about attending McCabe's funeral with Ferreira and Adair and that Ferreira held her hand throughout the service, squeezing her hand so hard, "it hurt."
Another key witness for the prosecution was Barry Moran, who testified he was a passenger in a car that drove up to within 6-8 feet of a 1965 Chevy Impala in a vacant lot off Maple Street in Lowell on the night of Sept. 26, 1969. Moran said he and some friends had intended to scare whoever was in the car by pretending to be a police car, but when they didn’t recognize the car as belonging to someone they knew they quickly left.
Moran said he wasn't 100 percent sure of the color of the car but was adamant about the make, model and year.
"Everyone knew what kind of car that was," he said. Moran testified he and his friends didn't see anyone in the car at the time.
Prosecutors allege a 1965 Chevy Impala, owned and driven by Walter Shelley, was used to kidnap McCabe and bring him to the vacant lot.
During cross-examination, the defense pounded on the accuracies Moran's memories of that night, 43 years ago. It was a common theme of cross examination throughout the day, as defense attorneys attempted to call into question how accurate witness testimony could be after over four decades.
Prosecution witness Mary Anne Lacourciere testified that three teens visited her while she was babysitting on the night of Sept. 26, 1969. She identified two of the boys as Ferreira and Shelley but said she could not recall who the third was.
Also taking the witness stand was Dr. Kimberly Springer, of the state Medical Examiner's Office. Springer testified that she reviewed the autopsy report and photos from the original case and determined McCabe had died of asphyxiation due to the strangulation. However, she said the ligature marks on McCabe's neck made it unlikely he had been hogtied as previously believed.
The trial is set to resume Friday morning at 9 a.m. with Jack Ward Jr., who described Johnny McCabe as his "best friend," taking the stand to continue his testimony. The prosecution's star witness, Edward Alan Brown, is also scheduled to testify.