Murder Suspect's Fate in The Hands of Jury
Jurors will have the option to convict Michael Ferreira of Salem, N.H. of 1st or 2nd degree murder.
About the only facts that Assistant District Attorney Tom O'Reilly and defense attorney Eric Wilson agree on is that Johnny McCabe was murdered sometime in the early morning hours of Sept. 27, 1969, and that his death was a horrible tragedy.
Beyond that, the men spun starkly different tales regarding how that death may have occurred during their closing arguments Thursday in the murder trial of Michael Ferreira of Salem, N.H.
Middlesex, Mass. Superior Court jurors began deliberating Ferreira's fate around 1 p.m. Thursday. They are scheduled to resume deliberations this morning.
In his instructions, Judge David Ricciardone told the jurors they had the option to acquit Ferreira or to convict on first degree murder, second degree murder or second degree felony murder.
Ferreira is one of three men accused of kidnapping McCabe off Route 38 in Tewksbury, Mass. on Sept. 26, 1969, driving him to a vacant lot in Lowell, Mass. and then binding and gagging the 15 year old in such a way that it led to his death by asphyxiation.
The motive in the case is said to have been jealousy, with one of the suspects, Walter Shelley, believing that McCabe had been flirting with his girlfriend Marla Shiner.
Shelley, who still lives in Tewksbury, is also charged with first degree murder. The third suspect, Edward Alan Brown, of Londonderry, will plead guilty to manslaughter and receive five years probation in exchange for his testimony against Ferreira and Shelley.
In his closing argument, Wilson told the jury that investigators had ignored two other viable suspects in the case and that Brown's testimony had been coerced by an overzealous Lowell Police detective.
"Everywhere you turn, everywhere you turn in this case, there is reasonable doubt," said Wilson.
In his closing argument, O'Reilly refuted Wilson's claims and said members of the jury needed to ask themselves what reason Brown would have to admit to a murder he wasn't part of.
"The only people who know what happened on Maple Street, in that field, are the people who did it," he said.
Patch will publish the verdict in this case as soon as it is reached and announced.