Accused Geoghan killer pleads guilty, then changes mind
Druce tells judge he would rather take case to trial
WORCESTER -- The inmate accused of killing defrocked pedophile priest John Geoghan told a judge yesterday he wanted to plead guilty, but minutes later retracted that and said he wanted a trial.
Joseph Druce, 40, was in Worcester Superior Court for a hearing on his request to toss out statements he allegedly made to authorities, boasting that he killed Geoghan to stop him from molesting more children.
But as the hearing began, Druce told Superior Court Judge Timothy Hillman he wanted to speak and said, ''I'm ready to represent myself, your honor, and plead guilty today."
Hillman said he would need to take a number of steps before he could accept a guilty plea, including determining whether Druce was mentally competent to waive his right to a trial.
Hillman also told Druce he planned to continue the hearing.
At that point, Druce told Hillman, ''I want a trial, actually, your honor."
Later in the hearing, Druce complained to the judge that Department of Correction officials were harassing him by opening his mail and limiting his access to copies of legal material he wants for his defense.
''Essentially what he was saying was `I can't get a fair trial because of the way I am being treated by the Department of Correction, so I might as well plead guilty,' " said Druce's attorney, John LaChance.
During the hearing, state trooper David Napolitano said Druce made a detailed confession to him after Geoghan was found strangled and beaten in his cell at Souza-Baranowski prison in Shirley in August 2003.
In a lengthy statement read by Napolitano, Druce said he'd planned to kill Geoghan for about five weeks.
''My goal was that he wouldn't be able to do this to kids again," Druce said, according to the statement Napolitano read.
Additional pretrial hearings are scheduled for Sept. 28-30, and a tentative trial date has been set for Nov. 21.