Wiretaps, DNA and shell casings: Trial preparations not short on twists and turns

November 5, 2009
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The trial concerning the murder of Revere Police Officer Dan Talbot took a major turn upside down last week, but even before then, there were some new revelations coming from the prosecution.

Whether it’s a jailhouse wiretap, newly discovered DNA evidence, or the DNA testing of Revere cops – the drama never seems to die out in the preparations for the January 4, 2010 trial of Robert Iacoviello Jr., Jimmy Heang and Gia Nagy – all charged jointly in the Sept. 29, 2007 murder of Talbot behind Revere High School (RHS).

Just recently, the prosecution revealed that they had found newly discovered DNA evidence on what is believed to be the murder weapon, according to court records.

The prosecution had asked for DNA samples from the defendants more than a year ago, but Judge Margaret Hinkle denied that request because there was no DNA evidence at the time.

For the longest time, at least in the public’s view, there appeared only to be witness testimony in the case. Physical evidence seemed to be at a minimum.

However, last summer, the State Police Forensics Lab began re-testing some of the physical evidence for DNA.

Just after the murder, in 2007, investigators allegedly found several broken pieces of the supposed murder weapon wrapped in blue, rubber gloves that were thrown in multiple storm drains throughout Revere.

Police recovered one of those blue gloves and two metal firearm pieces, and apparently found DNA profiles after taking a second look.

“Massachusetts State Police criminalists conducted further examination and analysis of the aforementioned swabs resulting in the discovery of viable DNA profiles,” read the prosecution’s filing. “As the analysis of the DNA profiles developed for these items of evidence when compared to the DNA profiles of the defendants will likely lead to the discovery of material evidence relevant to the determination of the defendants’ guilt or innocence.”

The prosecution has now used this new DNA evidence as leverage to collect DNA samples of all of the defendants in the case, much to the objection of their attorneys.

That’s because taking a closer look at the newfound DNA evidence shows that it’s not so much a smoking gun as it is a lukewarm water pistol.

Defense attorney Peter Krupp – Iacoviello’s counsel – pointed out in filings that the DNA evidence is basically non-existent on the two metal gun pieces, not even enough of a DNA profile to enter into the computer database.

Meanwhile, the DNA profile on the rubber glove is reported to only have a strong profile for a female suspect.

“Notably, there is no evidence in this case that suggests that Mr. Iacoviello ever came into contact with the blue glove,” wrote Krupp in his objection to the collection of DNA from his client.

He also pointed out that of the 21 swabs of potential DNA evidence, the state has still only tested eight of those swabs.

Nevertheless, Judge Peter Brady felt there was sufficient evidence to allow the samples, and they were collected last week.

Krupp, though, fired back with a rare request of his own, which the judge ended up allowing.

That request was that two Revere Police Officers – William Soto and former officer Evan Franklin – provide DNA samples as well.

According to those close to the case, getting samples from police officers that look to be testifying for the prosecution is rarely requested and even more rarely approved. Nevertheless, Brady granted Krupp’s request and ordered that both men submit DNA samples.

Krupp has also arranged for the DNA testing of swabs that were taken from a bullet shell casing found in a trash barrel at the crime scene and a shell casing found on the ground at the scene. Simultaneously, he is asking for the testing of swabs that contain DNA evidence from beer bottles found on the scene that the police officers were drinking from before the incident.

Krupp said he plans to use the evidence to aid in cross-examining these witnesses and determining their credibility.

Meanwhile, the same judge has denied him access to the police officers’ professional personnel records – records that would uncover any possible disciplinary actions or problems.

One of the biggest revelations, though, was a recent filing in which the prosecution revealed that they had a recorded, jailhouse conversation between Iacoviello and his former cellmate, a former cellmate who has now become yet another cooperating witness in the case.

Prosecutors reported that in 2008, while Iacoviello was in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton, the cellmate was equipped with a wiretap and recorded conversations with Iacoviello about the Talbot case.

The cellmate, who has a history of criminal conduct that includes drugs, armed robbery and firearms, has apparently received favorable treatment on an unrelated criminal case for his participation.

“He alleges that Mr. Iacoviello made certain admissions or other statements regarding [his] participation in the events giving rise to the charges in this case,” wrote Krupp.

Krupp objected to the recording, saying that it took the prosecution more than four months to reveal it to him and that the recording violated Iacoviello’s Constitutional rights.

Much of the information in the case is still privileged and not available to the general public, having been put under a protective order in 2008 that has recently been expanded in its scope.

However, public hearings in the case continue at a frequent clip, with the next motions hearing slated for next Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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