Pittsfield police are consummate magicians, using slight of hand to deceive grand juries. Their favorite parlor trick: Ghost Evidence. Props that ostensibly exist while defendants face indictment but mysteriously vanish prior to trial.
Case in point: While testifying before one particular grand jury, Pittsfield police investigator Mark Trapani described the scene of a sexual assault. The incident involved a young woman who was attacked in her car, a white Oldsmobile Alero, parked near the front entrance of a local Subway sandwich shop. Trapani told grand jury members that he’d snapped numerous digital photographs of the victim’s car, especially of the passenger side window, to capture latent fingerprint images left by the assailant.
Trapani testified that the photo compilation corroborated his latent fingerprint discovery. He vehemently promoted the photographic evidence, expounding upon its role in establishing the defendant’s culpability. Bear in mind, he never actually brandished the photographs for jury members to see, he just touted their existence. For reasons that defy logic, jury members failed to recognize the impropriety of not exhibiting the photos. Nor did they insist on seeing the photos prior to indicting.
During trial, when asked to present the photographs, Trapani shrugged his shoulders and confessed that he hadn’t brought them. Hadn’t brought them? How could Trapani have possibly made such a flagrant oversight? He was the lead witness in a high-profile superior court criminal proceeding.
Investigator Mark Trapani and prosecutor Joan McMenemy had collaborated for sixteen months prior to trial, yet we’re to believe that not once during their countless brainstorming sessions did they discuss the presentation of crime scene photographs? Anyone who watches courtroom docudramas on television knows that in real life the opposite happens; jury members are inundated with crime scene photographic evidence.
For reasons never disclosed, McMenemy excluded the photos – if we’re to believe there were ever any photos – because Trapani’s latent fingerprint discovery was bogus. There was no latent fingerprint evidence found at the crime scene and so no corroborating photographs existed. In her typical conniving style, McMenemy withheld this fact from jury members.
Due to the agenda of criminal defense attorney Leonard H. Cohen, appropriate action was suspiciously circumvented. In addition to nonchalantly glossing over Trapani’s highly unorthodox exclusion of crime scene photographs, Cohen never requested a recess in order for Trapani to retrieve his alleged photographic evidence. The Pittsfield police station sits one block from the courthouse, the trip would have required ten minutes.
The Commonwealth’s case focused exclusively on a latent fingerprint supposedly discovered on the passenger side window of the victim’s Oldsmobile Alero, yet to this day no one outside the Pittsfield Police Department has been allowed to see corroborating photos. Even more aggregiously, no one has ever seen photographs of the passenger side window to substantiate the existence of a latent fingerprint in situ.
Ghost evidence…vanished into thin air
As it so happens, I was the defendant in this case. As a result of courtroom improprieties I served eight years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit. The courtroom antics displayed by Joan M. McMenemy throughout her career have paid off. In exchange for debilitating the legal system and facilitating police corruption, McMenemy now serves as a judge in the Juvenile Court. I’m sure she’ll do the legal system proud!
Of all the criminal defense attorneys in Berkshire County guess who publicly voiced support for McMenemy’s appointment, going so far as to call her: “Eminently well-qualified to sit as a judge”
Why Leonard H. Cohen of course. Hmmm, just sayin…