THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Man is convicted in death of officer

Now faces life sentence in ’07 Revere shooting

By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / February 3, 2010

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A Suffolk County jury convicted a 22-year-old man yesterday of murdering a Revere police officer during an ugly exchange of epithets and gunfire between a group of alleged gang members and hard-drinking police officers gathered behind the local high school in the wee hours of a September morning more than two years ago.

Robert Iacoviello Jr., a reputed gang member and a lifelong Revere resident, was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of Officer Daniel Talbot, 30, a member of the Police Department’s gang unit.

Iacoviello - a diminutive, dark-haired man who wore a dark suit - stood motionless as the jury forewoman read the verdict before a courtroom packed with Revere and State Police officers, reporters, and family members of both victim and defendant.

Behind Iacoviello, in the front row, relatives and friends of Talbot, including his mother, Patty, and his fiancee, Constance Bethell, jumped in their seats and gasped as they heard the verdict read.

“Yes!’’ whispered one of them. Bethell sat on the edge of the bench, wiping away tears. Talbot’s mother leaned her head back and cried.

Michelle Iacoviello, the defendant’s stepmother, sobbed quietly, her shoulders shaking, as Iacoviello’s father, Robert, held her tight and rubbed her back.

“I’m very happy,’’ said Officer Robert Impemba, Talbot’s friend and one of the officers who first responded to his shooting. “It’s just a feeling of relief.’’

Iacoviello’s lawyer, Peter Krupp, said that Iacoviello is innocent and will appeal the conviction.

“We have said from the beginning of this case that Bobby Iacoviello did not kill Danny Talbot,’’ Krupp said. “He didn’t - and the jury verdict does not change that.’’

A codefendant, James Heang, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact for helping to dismantle the handgun used to shoot Talbot. Heang was acquitted on a charge of unlawful gun possession.

The trial, which lasted nearly four weeks, cast an unflattering light on the Revere Police Department, as multiple witnesses testified that armed, off-duty officers drank beer and shots of liquor while in public and while driving, on Sept. 28, 2007.

At about 1 a.m. the next morning, Talbot, three other officers, and Bethell gathered to continue drinking behind Revere High School, according to testimony in the case.

Witnesses said that the altercation that led to the shooting began when Iacoviello’s friend, Derek Lodie, also a reputed gang member, walked by. Talbot, who witnesses said was intoxicated, allegedly began taunting Lodie, using gang signals and slurs.

Lodie left, but returned minutes later with Iacoviello and two other people. Talbot approached the group, over the protests of Bethell and the other officers, and Iacoviello fired, prosecutors said.

Even while prosecuting Iacoviello on a charge of murder, Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin expressed sharp criticism of the officers’ actions that night, calling them shocking and outrageous during his opening and closing statements.

Krupp repeatedly highlighted the officers’ drinking that night as he tried to cast doubt on the prosecution’s argument that his client fired first.

During the trial, Krupp maintained that Iacoviello did not murder Talbot, but that whoever shot could have been acting in self-defense.

Jury forewoman Carola Cadley , of Jamaica Plain said the jurors were shocked by the officers’ behavior, which initially made their decision more difficult.

“The police actions that night we all believed were reprehensible and inappropriate in every way,’’ she said. “However, we did not feel that the actions of the police caused [Talbot] to be shot.’’

Cadley said that despite the drunken behavior of the police, it did not change the fact that “at the end of the day, somebody died, and somebody pulled the trigger.’’

She said that while jurors were sure Iacoviello killed Talbot, they wrestled over whether he had gone to the field intending to murder someone, one of the prerequisites for a first-degree murder conviction. In the end, she said, the evidence did not prove he had.

“We really felt it was an action of the moment,’’ Cadley said.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, who had sought a first-degree murder conviction, said he was happy with the conviction. “We are very satisfied with today’s verdict,’’ he said. “It was based on the evidence and very reasonable.’’

Iacoviello faces a life sentence and will not be eligible for parole for 15 years. Heang faces a maximum of seven years.

Lieutenant John Goodwin said the trial was hard on officers, who were hurt not only by the loss of one of their own, but by the negative publicity that followed Talbot’s shooting.

“We were on trial, you know what I mean?’’ Goodwin said. “There are a lot of hard-working people around here.’’

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.