John Graham (17) will make his next court appearance in Boston Tuesday, having pleaded not guilty on January 9 to each charge of a nine-count indictment, including the October 10, 2011 murder of Inis Meáin, Aran Islands native Ciaran Ó Conghaile (36).
The pre-trial hearing in courtroom 906 at Suffolk County Courthouse will see the exchange of paperwork between the prosecution and defense, and possibly some limited legal argument, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office told The Irish Emigrant.
Construction worker Mr. Ó Conghaile - also known by his English surname Conneely and as “Kiwi” to his friends - was found dead of a gunshot wound on Nahant Avenue in Dorchester just yards from his home, having left the American Legion Post bar on Gallivan Boulevard at some point on the night of October 9 last year.
After Graham was arrested on November 6 in connection with the October 30 shootings of two men aged 18 and 20 on nearby Monsignor Lydon Way, evidence gained during that investigation enabled detectives to link him to the Aran man’s death.
Graham faces charges of first-degree murder, armed assault with intent to rob, and unlawful possession of a firearm in relation to Mr. Ó Conghaile’s killing.
He was also arraigned on two additional counts of armed assault with intent to rob and single counts of armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the Monsignor Lydon Way shootings.
To avoid revealing Graham’s identity to the public, he remained out of view but within earshot of the judge as he entered his pleas on January 9. Identification will form a crucial part of the defense case, as Graham’s attorney Randy Gioia says neither of the two Lydon Way victims has identified his client.
The prosecution’s case will zone in on three key areas: ballistic evidence which they say proves the same gun was used in all shootings; video footage from local surveillance cameras; and statements Graham is alleged to have made to “other persons aware of his involvement” in the crimes.
In these statements, he is alleged to have outlined his role in both the killing of Mr. Ó Conghaile after a botched robbery, and the shooting of the two other victims in similar circumstances. Prosecutors say Graham’s alleged confessions to others match the first-hand testimony of the survivors.
At Graham’s arraignment Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum told Magistrate Gary D. Wilson that Mr. Ó Conghaile was walking home to his Nahant Avenue apartment on the night in question when “neighbors reported hearing a loud ‘bang’ shortly after midnight.” The Irishman was found lying on the pavement at 1:00 am with a bullet wound to the chest.
Mr. Polumbaum also outlined how the two victims of the October 30 shootings “thought the weapon was fake and refused to hand over their money,” when they were approached from behind by a person wielding a gun. He said one victim was shot four times from behind, with the other taking a bullet in the arm. The first victim was admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Graham is set to be tried as an adult on all charges under Massachusetts Law, with a trial date provisionally set for January 7, 2013.