Fred Weichel, who has spent more than 30 years in prison for a murder conviction, is asking for a new trial.  Weichel says that Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi told federal prosecutors in 2013 that Bulger urged a corrupt FBI agent not to tell authorities he saw Weichel at a bar shortly before Robert LaMonica was shot and killed in 1980.  Weichel says the corroborated alibi could have made a difference in the original trial.

 In addition, Weichel, 62, says records given to his defense by the Braintree police in 2010 suggest that someone else was identified as a suspect in the murder investigation.

 “The bottom line is he didn’t do it,” said Boston attorney Michael Ricciuti, a former federal prosecutor whose firm has been working with the New England Innocence Project pro bono, “It’s clear that there is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. They can say a jury convicted him — that is factually true — but the standard is if a jury had all the evidence we have now, would it make a difference…”

Flemmi allegedly gave the information to prosecutors as they were preparing to try Bulger.  Flemmi was a key prosecution witness in Bulger’s trial, which resulted in Bulger being convicted of racketeering and playing a role in 11 murders.  Bulger was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  According to the letter Weichel’s attorneys received from a prosecutor, Flemmi said that he was at former FBI agent John Connolly Jr.’s home when Bulger told Connolly “don’t get involved” in the Weichel case.  Bulger knew Connolly had seen Weichel in a Boston bar at about 12:15 a.m., around the time LaMonica was killed outside his apartment.

Agent Connolly was convicted of racketeering and obstruction charges for helping Bulger evade capture and feeding the Winter Hill Gang information as well as accepting bribes.  He spent 10 years in federal prison before being released in 2011.  He was separately convicted of second-degree murder in relation to the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler and the 1982 murder of John Callahan.  He was sentenced to 40 years.  He is currently serving his sentence in a Florida state prison.    

Braintree police produced a report in 2010 dated June 9, 1980, in which a detective said a witness and 10 correctional officers identified Rocco “Mad Dog” Balliro as the person in the composite sketch, made from an eyewitness to the murder, who saw a man running from the scene.  Balliro was out of prison at the time.

In November of 1962, Balliro was arrested for theft and escaped in January of 1963 from New Bedford House of Correction.  About a month later, Balliro’s girlfriend, Toby Wagner’s husband was released from prison.  She told Balliro she was going to divorce him and left their home to speak with him.  After four hours, Balliro believed she was being held against her will.  Rocco, his brother Salvatore Balliro, and Albert Ciocco went to the apartment, but the police were waiting for them having been tipped off.  A shootout occurred, which resulted in the death of Toby Wagner, 21, and her son, Mark, 2.  Originally, all three men were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, but their convictions were overturned on appeal.  Awaiting a retrial, Rocco Balliro pled guilty to first-degree murder and the other two men pled guilty to manslaughter.  Balliro died in 2012 while serving a life sentence.

The report was not provided to Weichel’s defense at the time of the original trial.  Prosecutors are requesting that the new trial appeal be dismissed without a hearing.  They wrote in their response motion that they do not believe the police report is authentic citing the fact that it doesn’t mention Weichel or his case number.  Ricciuti said that the report was not included in the district attorney’s files, but was in the case file given to the defense by the police after they made a public records request.  Prosecutors also wrote that the detective who authored the report does not remember receiving that tip.  At the original trial, prosecutors argued that Weichel and LaMonica had a contentious relationship.  The eyewitness at the time, identified Weichel as the man running from the scene.

In 2004, Weichel was granted a new trial.  His friend, Thomas Barrett, had confessed to killing LaMonica in a letter to Weichel’s mother in 1982, but Weichel told his mother not to talk about the letter because Bulger and Flemmi threatened to kill Weichel and his family if they implicated Barrett.  Barrett has invoked his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.  Two years later, the new trial was revoked when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that Barrett’s alleged confession lacked corroboration.


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