A Florida state appeals court overturned the murder conviction of corrupt FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. on Wednesday, ruling that jurors relied on a flawed charge against him in the 1982 killing of a Boston businessman.
The decision raises the possibility that the 73-year-old Connolly, James “Whitey” Bulger’s longtime handler and a central figure in one of the most notorious chapters in Boston’s criminal history, could be freed.
By a 2-to-1 decision, the Miami appeals court ruled that Connolly’s conviction of second-degree murder with a firearm in 2008 should be overturned because, among other reasons, he did not carry or discharge the gun that was used to kill John Callahan in South Florida.
The court appeared to fault prosecutors for overreaching. In their effort to win a conviction against Connolly, who had been 1,500 miles away in Boston when hit man John Martorano killed Callahan, prosecutors used a firearms charge that skirted the state’s statute of limitations.
“It was undisputed that Martorano used his own gun to shoot Callahan and that Connolly never carried, displayed, used, or threatened to use the murder weapon,” Judge Richard J. Suarez wrote for the majority.
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