Almost anybody agrees that James Rodwell ability not accept been bedevilled of annihilation about 40 years ago if not for the affidavit of a key attestant and career bent called David Nagle.
At the time, Rodwell’s advocate approved to bar Nagle from the stand, accusing him of actuality a longtime biologic informant. But the adjudicator said there was no affidavit and accustomed Nagle to accommodate his annual of the murder, of how — he said — Rodwell strode up to Louis J. Rose Jr.’s car and attack him seven times in the face.
Now 61, Rodwell continues to advance his innocence, and new affirmation has emerged to bolster his case for addition trial, a accommodation which lies with a amends of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. Rodwell’s attorneys point out that the Biologic Administration Administration paid Nagle dozens of times afore the 1981 balloon for allegorical on others and that the authorities may accept pressured Nagle to affirm adjoin Rodwell to win a conviction.
Rodwell’s case has fatigued the abutment of a cardinal of arresting lawyers, who say prosecutors not alone withheld exculpatory affirmation at balloon but connected to do so for years to come.
“There is a fetor about this case,” said Jack Cunha, a adept bent aegis advocate who has consulted on Rodwell’s appeals. “Which emanates from the government, over the advance of decades, not actuality accessible about Nagle and his access to law enforcement.”
There was no concrete affirmation attached Rodwell to the killing of Rose, a biologic banker who was attack in Somerville in 1978. Instead, prosecutors relied heavily on the chat of Nagle, who, affirmation now shows, had a history of bartering advice to board in barter for charity for his own offenses.
But the board was never told Nagle had formed as a badge informant. A few months afterwards his arrest, Rodwell was bedevilled of first-degree annihilation and bedevilled to activity in bastille afterwards the achievability of parole.
The case is now afore Amends Scott L. Kafker, who will adjudge whether the new affirmation baldheaded by Rodwell’s attorneys should be presented to the abounding bench. A antecedent amends denied his address aftermost year, afterwards a Superior Cloister adjudicator alone a bid for a new trial.
The Middlesex commune attorney’s appointment beneath to animadversion on the case because it charcoal beneath appeal. In cloister filings, prosecutors said they were blind of Nagle’s above role as an adviser at the time of the balloon and that Nagle was never offered any deals for his affidavit adjoin Rodwell.
David Siegel, who prosecuted the case in 1981 and is now retired, beneath to animadversion on the allegations aloft by Rodwell’s attorneys. But he bidding aplomb that amends was done.
“There is not an atom of agnosticism in my apperception that James Rodwell alternate in this abomination and that he was the leader,” Siegel said.
Rodwell has filed seven bootless motions for a new trial, but board accept consistently disqualified there was not abundant new affirmation that Nagle aria about Rodwell on the angle or that prosecutors withheld Nagle’s abounding background.
But attorneys for Rodwell say the accumulated affirmation acutely indicates that Rodwell did not accept a fair trial.
“That is one of the problems Rodwell has had,” said Harvey Silverglate, a bent aegis advocate who has consulted on the case. “Every time he is aback in court, some adjudicator is because some little bend of this afterwards attractive at the abounding picture.”
Rodwell has additionally fatigued abutment from a hasty corner. Nagle’s half-brother, retired Westwood Badge Chief William Chase, said he is assertive Nagle aria on the stand.
“I accessory at the affirmation in this case and it’s arresting to me that he was bedevilled in the aboriginal place,” Chase said. “I’m afraid and disappointed, frankly, in the commune attorney’s appointment that they haven’t taken a added cold accessory at this case.”
In an annual at MCI-Concord, Rodwell recalled the night he was arrested. It was a balmy May night, and he was alive aegis alfresco the Deja Vu bistro in Lynn back badge admiral approached him.
“You’re beneath arrest for murder,” they said, acceding him central a cruiser.
“This is a mistake,” Rodwell said he recalled thinking.
Rodwell absent his father’s funeral, and seethes with annoyance that he cannot advice his mother, who afresh suffered a stroke. Still, he said he tries to abide hopeful.
“It’s agony,” he said. “But you accept to accept faith.”
On Dec. 4, 1978, Rose was begin asleep in the advanced bench of his Buick on Garfield Avenue. Rose, the son of a Burlington badge captain, was 21.
For three years, badge had no abstraction who was abaft his murder. But in April 1981, they bent a break. Francis X. Holmes Jr., a 23-year-old who had gone to aerial academy with Rose, was arrested for actionable his acquittal for armed robbery. He was beatific to the Billerica House of Correction, breadth Nagle was additionally actuality captivated on armed robbery charges.
From jail, Holmes accomplished out to badge and gave the advance detective on the case, State Trooper Thomas Spartachino, his annual of Rose’s killing.
Late on Dec. 3, Holmes, Rodwell and addition man fabricated affairs to rob Rose, and collection to Somerville. They anchored on Garfield Avenue, breadth Rodwell strode over to Rose’s Buick and attack him, Holmes said. He again took Rose’s burglarize and $5,000 account of Percodan pills from the car.
On May 22, badge arrested Rodwell, a 25-year-old railroad artisan and bouncer with a bent almanac for advance and larceny. He was beatific to Billerica to anticipate trial, breadth he met Nagle. Nagle would afterwards affirm that Rodwell had bragged, to him and added inmates, about killing Rose.
Even with the affidavit of Holmes and Nagle, the case adjoin Rodwell had holes. Prosecutors had no fingerprints attached Rodwell to the murder, and no added attestant placed him at the scene. The annihilation weapon, a .22-caliber firearm, was never recovered.
Before trial, prosecutors offered Rodwell a seven- to 10-year book if he pleaded guilty. Rodwell said he never advised it.
“Why would I booty a accord for article I didn’t do?” Rodwell said.
Rodwell had no alibi, adage he could not bethink the night in question. He was apparently at work, he told authorities, or spending time with his fiancee or his parents.
At trial, Rodwell’s attorneys portrayed Holmes and Nagle as bastille informants who had agreed to accuse Rodwell so they could accept their sentences reduced. Holmes was additionally motivated by revenge, Rodwell believes. In 1978, Rodwell had baffled him up afterwards accusing Holmes of stealing.
But prosecutors had added evidence. Holmes said he and Rodwell collection to accommodated Rose in a dejected Gran Torino Rodwell had rented. Badge begin a rental acceding that showed Rodwell had busy a dejected Torino on Dec. 1 and alternate it on Dec. 5. There were discrepancies about the car, however. Rodwell busy a four-door model, and badge initially declared the car apparent on the night of the annihilation as a two-door.
Rodwell’s lawyer, William Cintolo, argued that Nagle should not be accustomed to testify, adage badge had recruited him to abstract a acknowledgment from Rodwell. That fabricated Nagle a government abettor and his affidavit inadmissible.
The adjudicator said there was no affidavit that Nagle was an adviser or that he had cooperated with law administration before. He banned to let Cintolo catechism Nagle about actuality an informant.
On the stand, Nagle said he was a Marine baker who had larboard the account with honors. In fact, he had been dishonorably absolved afterwards activity AWOL.
The board took beneath than a day to acquisition Rodwell guilty.
Since the conviction, Rodwell’s attorneys accept focused on Nagle’s testimony, acquainted that he accustomed an almighty ablaze book for the robbery. They accept said that Spartachino, the advance detective on the case who has back died, intervened several times on Nagle’s behalf, sometimes allurement board anon for charity and in one case blowing a prosecutor to go easier on Nagle.
Retired Superior Cloister Adjudicator Robert A. Barton, who did not analysis the case, said that jurors are about apprehensive of badge informants. But board may be afraid to accessory acutely at a case that has already been advised abounding times, he said.
“It’s animal nature. You get article that’s 25 years old, bristles or six board accept already alone it, and the guy has annihilation bigger to do but accumulate appealing,” Barton said. “You anticipate this is a decay of time.”
In 2015, Superior Cloister Adjudicator Thomas Billings agreed to authority an evidentiary audition on whether Rodwell should accept a new trial. The affairs eventually lasted several months and complex 26 witnesses, including Siegel, the aboriginal prosecutor.
“I still anticipate David Nagle told the truth,” Siegel testified.
Rodwell’s accepted lawyer, Veronica White, presented a host of affirmation she aggregate from new assemblage and abstracts that were unearthed afterwards Nagle, who died in 2012 of alarmist failure, waived his attorney-client advantage in the case:
■ Two of Nagle’s attorneys testified that in the years afterwards the balloon Nagle had told them that board threatened to accuse Nagle’s fiancee in Rose’s annihilation if he did not testify.
■ Chase testified that he confronted his brother about the balloon in 1991 and told him he believed he was lying. Nagle did not abjure it, he said.
■ In a 1982 letter to Suffolk prosecutors that asked for charity in one of Nagle’s cases, Spartachino declared how Nagle had amorphous allied with authorities in June 1981. At trial, Nagle said they met in July. White argued that the letter accepted he had recruited Nagle to access Rodwell and accost information, actionable Rodwell’s built-in rights.
■ Prosecutors absent the case book and waited years to acquaint the aegis about it.
In a 115-page ruling, Billings said none of these new issues acceptable a new trial.
The date in Spartachino’s letter was a “slip of the pen,” Billings wrote. The accident of the case file, while “unfortunate,” was absurd to accommodate any affirmation of corruption.
White said she will abide to columnist on with the case.
“I will accumulate angry for Jimmy for the blow of my life,” she said.
Just afore Christmas, Rodwell’s sister, Kimberly, visited him at MCI-Concord with their mother’s nurse. They drank coffee and ate some accolade afore accessory Catholic Mass in the bastille visiting room.
“I aloof accept to blot it up and pray,” Rodwell said.
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