James Rodwell denied new trial

james rodwell trial
James Rodwell (right) with his attorney, Veronica White (left) at a hearing at the Middlesex Superior Courthouse in Woburn in February. (Photo: Shawn Musgrave for NECIR)

A Massachusetts judge denied convicted murderer James Rodwell a new trial, rejecting arguments that a key witness against him perjured himself in return for promises of favors from police.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Billings wrote in his May 20 opinion that prosecutors adequately disclosed all agreements with witness David Nagle, who testified that Rodwell confessed to the murder while both men were being held in the same jail.

Rodwell’s bid for a new trial, his seventh since his 1981 conviction, was covered in a story in The Eye in April. He is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

Rodwell’s attorney, Veronica White, said she intended to appeal Judge Billings’ decision. “I do not believe that this Superior Court opinion will withstand the scrutiny of the higher courts,” she said.

In his latest motion for a new trial, Rodwell claimed Nagle, who had been a paid law-enforcement informant, was placed in the jail where Rodwell was staying to get information from him for police, and that their plan was hidden from his defense lawyers. Prosecutors have maintained Nagle spoke with Rodwell without any prior agreement with police.

Judge Billings said the evidence pointed “imperfectly, to be sure, but nonetheless convincingly” to the conclusion that Nagle, facing charges of armed robbery, approached law enforcement only after his jailhouse conversations with Rodwell.