The jury in the trial of the man charged with the murder of an Irish immigrant were excused at Suffolk Superior Court until Monday, March 24 when the trial is set to continue.
Teenager John Graham is charged with the first-degree murder of Irishman 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.
After he died a passenger exiting a taxi attempted to rob him to pay his fare.
Graham,the now 19-year-old has also been 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.
Jurors in the trial of John Graham took a view of salient locations on Wednesday, March 19, before hearing lawyers’ opening statements, followed by prosecution testimony.
Prosecutor Ian Polumbaum admitted to the newly selected jurors in his opening statement that “there’s not a lot to go on.” This comment referred to the lack of DNA, evidence and eye-witness in this case but Polumbaum was keen to point out that the connection with the victims and the defendant came down to Graham himself who wouldn't stop talking about what he had done. The then 16-year-old allegedly confessed to his inner circle hours after the murder “I got a body … I got a body.”
Defense Lawyer Robert Sheketoff told the jurors that this was “one of these old-fashioned cases” and they would have to figure out “who done it.”
Sheketoff advised there was no evidence that directly linked his client to either assaults but jurors instead would have to come to their verdict by evaluating whether the witnesses in this case were telling the truth. He remarked that Graham's inner circle were a “interesting group of people.” and described the case as ‘simple but complex all at the same time.”
Over a period of three days, the court heard from an eclectic mixture of witnesses in this case which included members of the Boston Police Department investigation team, the deceased’s sister, the two-surviving victims and also, Graham’s then inner circle who he is alleged to have confessed his crimes too.
This inner circle consists of Joel Winslow, Cecilia Winslow, Anthony Jose Sanchez Guerra and Graham’s sister Tenesia and they have all took to the witness stand in this trial to answer questions related to the events during the fall of 2011.
Joel Winslow, the father of Graham’s nephew, took the stand early in the trial. Winslow recalled to the prosecutor how Graham had confessed to the murder of Ciarán Conneely in the wee hours of October 10, 2011.
Winslow has a long line of juvenile convictions against him including assault and battery. According to the authorities, after an arrest for a suspended license, Winslow advised detectives that Graham had confessed to a murder.
His wife Cecelia, 22, also took the stand and testified that on the morning of October 10, 2011 whilst scrolling through the Boston Police Department website, Graham remarked “Oh shit that’s him” as the story about the murdered Irishman appeared on-line.
During cross-examination by Sheketoff, Winslow agreed that he considered Graham like ‘a little brother’. However, he soon became hostile when Graham’s defense lawyer insinuated that his client may not have committed the homicide or the later robberies by himself but rather have been coerced by someone he looked up too implying that Winslow may have been involved.
Sheketoff was quick to cast doubt on the honesty of the couple as he queried their testimony.
The questions centered on the phone records between the Winslows’s on the night Conneely was murdered. Despite claiming that they were both in their apartment all day and night, the records indicate the couple made calls to each other after midnight, around the time of the murder which Cecelia testified she believe it was because "Joel might have been in the toilet."
Also brought to the attention of the court was video footage from a store which shows a car in the area moments after the homicide. This car, identified from the video as a Lexus, was considered to be very similar to a Lexus that Joel Winslow often drove during that time period.
Later in the trial, Anthony Jose Sanchez Guerra was called to the stand. The 24-year-old testified that his friend Winslow told him about Graham’s confession days after the murder of the Irishman. Sanchez then approached Graham to ask the teenager why he did it and according to Sanchez, the defendant’s reaction was that “he started laughing.”
Winslow told him about Graham’s confession days after the murder of the Irishman. Sanchez then approached Graham to ask the teenager why he did it and according to Sanchez, the defendant’s reaction was that “he started laughing.”
Sanchez Guerra then told the court, that after hearing this information, he was concerned about ‘the heat’ that would be on the group and when asked by the defense why he never reported this alleged confession to the police he replied “nah, none of my business.”
Graham’s sister, Tenesia, 23, appeared on the witness stand on Friday, March 21. The mother of four, who has one son with the earlier witness Joel Winslow and is 25-weeks pregnant with her fifth child, had earlier attempted to avoid appearing on the witness stand by producing a doctor’s note.
Openly hostile to ADA Polumbaum, she appeared to have difficulty recalling the sequence of events which led to her brother confessing to her the murder of the Irishman and shooting his other two victims. Her answers were often inaudible and when she did choose to answer his questions “I can’t remember exactly” or “I can’t recall” where typical responses.
Her memory improved when cross examined by her brother’s lawyer as she clearly recalled dates, time and locations of events involving John Graham during the fall of 2011.
Conneely’s devastated family has been in attendance throughout the trial at the Superior Court located in downtown Boston.
The trial resumes Monday morning at 9am and the jury is expected to deliberate on a verdict by mid-week.