Defense attorneys in Miami have argued that a FBI agent’s conviction in the 1982 mob related murder should be overturned as the agent never came in contact with the murder weapon. The agent concerned, John Connolly, once worked as an informant with America’s most wanted, James “Whitey” Bulger in Boston.
The former FBI agent Connolly has no direct connection to the gun, and as a result his 2008 conviction cannot stand, Connolly’s attorney Manuel Alvarez told a state appeals court.
"You have to allege physical possession of the firearm during commission of the felony," Alvarez the court. "We don’t have that in this case. We all know John Connolly did not shoot anybody."
The former agent was 1,500 miles away when a hit man murdered John Callahan in South Florida. During the murder trial that followed, prosecutors successfully argued that information from Connolly leaked to mobsters led to his death.
The 70-year-old was convicted of second degree murder in the killing of Callahan by a hit man who had links to Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. Two of the gang’s most prominent members were Bulger, who is currently on the FBI’s most wanted list, and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who is currently in jail and testified against Connolly during the trial.
During the trial Flemmi said that Connolly had tipped off mob bosses in the weeks before the murder, alerting them to the fact that Callahan was likely to become an FBI informant.
Prosecutor Joel Rosenblatt contends that possession of a firearm by Connolly, including an FBI service weapon, overcomes the statute of limitations.
Responding to the appeal, Judge Leslie Rothenberg said the jury in Connolly’s trial was satisfied there was a “principal” in the murder and therefore the agent was just as guilty as the hit man.
"The jury found that he was a part of that homicide," Rothenberg said. "The state says that this was an ongoing offense until the trigger was pulled."
Callaghan’s body was discovered in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami International Airport in August 1981. Testimony showed that Connolly was in Massachusetts when he was murdered.
Once a well respected Boston FBI agent, Connolly is serving his sentence in North Carolina federal prison for a corruption conviction as a result if his dealings with the Winter Hill Gang.
He is due to be released in June of this year, but will immediately begin serving his 40-year sentence for this involvement in the murder, if his conviction stands.