One of the last men to face the death penalty in Massachusetts is expected to be released from prison today, 30 years after his trial and nearly a month after a Boston judge threw out his conviction.
Laurence Adams, 51, has been in prison since a jury found him guilty in 1974 of beating a transit worker to death two years before. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert A. Mulligan vacated the conviction last month to "avoid a miscarriage of justice."
Adams is to appear before a judge in Suffolk Superior Court this morning and David Procopio, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, said "we will ask that a makeable bail be set for the defendant."
In a statement, Conley's office said it has undertaken a comprehensive review of the case.
"That review is not yet complete, but has reached a point at which we have determined that the interests of justice warrant a bail hearing for Mr. Adams," the statement said.
Prosecutors can either ask that charges against Adams be dismissed, appeal Mulligan's decision by Monday, or pursue a new trial. Conley's office has not yet decided its course of action, according to the statement.
Adams's attorney, John J. Barter, said he was "very hopeful" Adams would be released. When his conviction was thrown out, Adams became the ninth person in recent years to successfully challenge a conviction in Suffolk County courts."Things worked out pretty good, but it's been a long road," said his mother, Mary, 81, who saw her son on Sunday. "I still won't believe it until he walks out the door and is free." Adams was 21 when he was convicted of murder and armed robbery for killing James Corry, a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority worker, on Nov. 27, 1972, during a robbery in a downtown subway station.
Adams was sentenced to be put to death by electric chair.
Before Adams's conviction, the US Supreme Court had ruled that elements of some states' death penalties were unconstitutional. His sentence was commuted to life without parole after the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state's death penalty was unconstitutional.
Adams first asked for a new trial in 1997. At a 2002 evidentiary hearing, Barter presented evidence showing Boston police had documents casting doubt on Adams's guilt, such as notes and reports of other people who bragged about being involved in the murder and a statement from a witness who said that two other people committed the murder.
Barter also found that the state's star witness, Wyatt Moore, was incarcerated at the time of the murder and had changed his story to police several times. Pending charges against him were dropped the day after Adams's trial ended, and he was given probation for other felony charges.
Another witness, Lynne Moore, recanted her testimony before she died. Charges against her also had been dropped.