CONVICTION RATE IN HOMICIDE CASES IN 2005 TOPPED 90 PERCENT

BOSTON, Jan. 3, 2005 -- Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole today announced that more than 90 percent of homicide defendants whose cases were resolved in 2005 were convicted.Sixty Suffolk County homicide defendants were either convicted after trial or avoided trial by pleading guilty, O’Toole and Conley said. Six defendants were acquitted after trial. The 60 convicted defendants, of a total 66 charged in connection with homicides, resulted in a 91 percent conviction rate. Cases against 30 or those defendants were resolved after trial. Of those, 24 were convicted of either first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or manslaughter, a trial conviction rate of 80 percent. O’Toole and Conley attributed the high conviction rate to the experience, expertise, and professionalism of investigators and prosecutors in their homicide units. Both officials said that cases are investigated not with the goal of securing a quick arrest, but rather with an eye toward identifying the right suspect and developing solid evidence sufficient to secure convictions before a court of law. The release of the 2005 conviction statistics followed a meeting between the district attorney and commissioner and their homicide units to review the past year, look ahead to strategies for the new year, and thank them for their excellent work. “That 60 killers have been brought to justice in a single year is a testament to the skill, work ethic and dedication of the police who investigate these case and the attorneys who prosecute them,” Conley said at a briefing at Boston Police headquarters. “So as we begin a new year, we remain committed to the ultimate goal of conducting investigations and trying cases that result in convictions.” Commissioner O’Toole stated, “Working in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office, the Boston Police Department has implemented major systemic changes in the way homicide cases are investigated and prosecuted. These reforms have demonstrated results and have created new momentum in the Boston Police Homicide Unit.” The high conviction rate is in line with the average from the last four years. From 2002-05, the average overall homicide conviction rate in Suffolk County – trial convictions plus guilty pleas – is 90 percent. The conviction rate after homicide trials for that period is 78 percent. Those numbers represent an increase over the rates for the previous nine years (1993-2001), which averaged 78 percent overall and 67 percent after trial. All told last year, there were 33 homicide trials; three ended in hung juries. Of the three defendants on whose fates juries hung, two later pled guilty and the third was convicted in the last week of the year after his retrial. The total number of homicide cases resolved in 2005 was the highest in Suffolk County in a decade. Conley and O’Toole attributed the high number to an emphasis by the Trial Court, in conjunction with police and prosecutors, to move homicide cases to disposition in a timely manner. Conley credited the implementation of a dedicated homicide session in Suffolk Superior Court, and thanked Justices Margaret Hinkle and Barbara Rouse for their efforts to establish and oversee that session. “Quantity without quality is meaningless, and the police and prosecutors who worked so long and hard to maintain this pace and ensure the quality of these cases deserve enormous credit,” Conley said.