In a case that reads like a crime novel, Connolly was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first degree murder in 2005 for the 1982 hit on John Callahan, who was involved with Miami Jai alai. Co-defendants (who were not tried at the time) included Whitey Bulger, Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi, and John Martorano.
To make a very long story short, Connolly was acquitted of conspiracy, and the jury found him guilty of the lesser of second degree murder with a firearm. The inclusion of the firearm made all the difference in the world because it re-classified the felony to a life felony. In 1982, second degree murder without a firearm had a four year statute of limitations.
Martorano was the triggerman. Connolly never carried the gun used to kill the deceased. Indeed, at the time of the murder, Connolly was in Boston. The state argued that the jury instruction for second degree murder with a firearm as a lesser was justified because at the time of the murder Connolly was carrying his service revolver in Boston.
Judge Blake (the trial judge) did not set aside the verdict. He did sentence Connolly to forty years.
But the 3rd DCA reversed Judge Suarez holding, au contraire mon ami, the state's theory regarding the firearm was as sturdy as a raft from Mariel, Cuba.
The opinion is here.
"The language, “with a firearm” is singular,
and refers to the manner in which John Callahan was killed: it is clearly a reference to the only firearm used to murder Callahan. It is pure sophistry to argue that the general reference to section 775.087 in Count 1 of the indictment put Connolly on notice that his service weapon—an uncharged firearm unrelated to the murder, located in an entirely different state at the time of the offense—could later be the basis for reclassifying a time-barred conviction of a lesser included offense to a non-time-barred life felony, for committing the offense “with a firearm."
Judge Rothenberg dissented.
A BIG BIG win for Manny Alvarez of the PDs office. Manny continually wins big appeals for the PDS office. He has shown again why he is one of the best appellate attorneys in this state. Also a big win for Bruce Fleisher and Manny Cassabielle, who represented Connolly at trial and followed Rumpole's advice and objected and preserved the record.
Von Zamft led the prosecution team at trial.
Connolly may have a fed conviction that he owes time on, so we're not sure he is going to be released. But it is still an big big win for the defense.
For more on Connolly, Flemmi, and Bulger, read "Whitey Bulger, America's Most Wanted Gangster", by Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelly Murphy.
See you in court. Remember, when in doubt, object.