Massachusetts prosecutors opposed a Boston man’s efforts to re-open his 30-year-old murder conviction and dismissed his efforts to obtain legal records as a “fishing expedition.”
The state asserted in a new filing that Darrell Jones, convicted in 1986, wasn’t entitled to a new trial because his arguments had already been raised and rejected in previous attempts to re-open the case.
In the state’s filing, Robert Thompson, an assistant district attorney in Plymouth County, also said that Jones’ claims that police tampered with a key piece of videotaped evidence should not be considered by the court because he had previous opportunities to raise the issue. A type of forensic analysis used on the tape by experts on behalf of Jones was available in the 1990s, the state said, prior to his last motion for a new trial in 2000.
“The defendant has not established that any of the multiplicity of issues he presents could not have been presented in prior post-conviction proceedings,” Thompson argued in the legal brief. “In the end, the defendant essentially just disagrees with the jury’s determination.”
Thompson spoke in Brockton Superior Court, where Jones appeared in court for the first time since he was convicted of killing alleged cocaine dealer Guillermo Rodriguez 30 years ago. The courtroom was filled with Jones’ family members and supporters, including Rev. William Barry of Weston who has been supporting Jones and his sister Classie Howard, who traveled from Georgia. Jones wiped away tears as attorneys from the state’s Innocence Program spoke on his behalf.
Jones’ bid for exoneration was the subject of a January story by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and WBUR public radio.
Brockton Superior Court Judge Thomas McGuire called the hearing yesterday to rule on Jones’ request to obtain legal documents to aid his plea, including prosecutorial files and court exhibits. Following a short hearing, McGuire said he couldn’t decide until he examines the documents and ordered Thompson to provide a list of what the state and police have within 30 days.
Thompson, meanwhile, said that he believed that Jones’ attorneys already had a complete set of legal records but would go over what was in the state’s possession. He said other requests were based on no more than “speculation” and a “fishing expedition.”