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John Graham, 19, is on trial for the 2011 murder of Galway man Ciaran Conneely in Dorchester.

Boston trial of murdered Irish immigrant goes to jury

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John Graham, 19, is on trial for the 2011 murder of Galway man Ciaran Conneely in Dorchester.

The fate of John Graham, the teenager charged with the murder of an Irishman in 2011, now lies in the hands of a 12 person jury at Suffolk Superior Court, Boston.

The 19-year-old is charged with the first-degree murder of Ciarán Conneely, known as Kiwi, 36, during a botched robbery attempt in the early hours of October 10, 2011. Conneely, a construction worker, had been living in the U.S for over 12 years and had been moments away from his Dorchester home when he was callously shot dead. He was returning home from an Irish festival.

Graham, only 16-years-old at the time, is also charged with eight other offenses, including shooting two other men later in October 2011. Both of those victims survived that attack but now live with the bullets lodged in their body.

Tuesday, March 25, started with Prosecutor Ian Polumbauma calling his last witness to the stand – Dr. Katherine Lindstrom from the Medical Examiner’s office. The forensic pathologist was responsible for performing the autopsy on Conneely and confirmed that the cause of his death was a single gunshot to this chest. She described in detail the impact the bullet would have had on Conneely’s body. As part of her testimony, jury members were shown images of the deceased man’s injuries. Judge Giles had informed the jury that some of them might find the images “disturbing.”

Conneely’s family appeared visibly upset as the expert witness gave her testimony. Some of them firmly fixed their eyes on the ground or cupped their face with their hands when the images were displayed.

After the Commonwealth rested its case both counsels addressed the jury with their closing arguments.

Defence Lawyer Robert Sheketoff addressed the jury first on why he believes his client should be found not guilty of first degree murder.

He asked them to recall the relationships involved in this case and ask them to specifically question the role that prosecution witness Joel Winslow played in the two separate incidents. He also reminded the jurors of the inconsistencies between the witness’s statements and the evidence shown in court including the Winslow’s phone records and video footage which shows a Lexus driving around before and after the homicide.

As part of his closing argument, Sheketoff recalled the biblical story of ‘Cain and Abel,’ where Abel was murdered by his own brother. The defense lawyer then asked the jurors to dismiss everything else in the case and to solely concentrate their attention on the relationship between Graham and his sister.

Tenesia Graham testified that her brother, John Graham, had confessed everything to her days after the Irishman was killed. However, Sheketoff suggested that Tenesia cared very little for her brother, but she was, rather, in love with Winslow with whom she had been involved in a complicated relationship since she was 15 years-old. This relationship was more important to her than the one she shared with her brother. He asked the jury to ‘run that video tape in your head….. .”

Prosecutor Ian Polumbauma then addressed the jury on why he believes Graham is guilty of first degree murder and the other charges for which he was indicted.

“I was out with Joel and I shot someone.” Polumbauma began his closing statement with these words.

He was referring to the words allegedly used by the defendant when he confided in her that he had shot Conneely dead.

The prosecutor asked the jurors to consider Teneisa’s motivation and asked the jurors,“If she loved Joel so much why would she mention him in her brother’s confession?”

Referring to the role Winslow played in this case, Polumbauma commented, “No one is ignoring Joel Winslow's involvement.”

Polumbauma argued that the if the Lexus had been driven by Winslow, as the defense team speculated, that only served to prove that Winslow could not have been the shooter.

Polumbauma finished his argument by asking the jury to come to their decision on the facts and John Graham’s conscious actions to approach, rob and shoot during the two separate incidents in the fall of 2011.

Judge Giles instructed the jury on their role as sole judges of the facts and reminded the panel that a unanimous verdict needed to be returned.

The jury began to deliberate at midday. The jury deliberated until 4pm Tuesday and will reconvene for deliberations Wednesday morning, March 26.

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