The prosecutor made mistakes and the judge made mistakes, but the evidence of Edwin J. Alemany’s guilt for kidnapping and murdering Amy E. Lord and attacking two other women in South Boston was so overwhelming his convictions will stand, the state’s highest court ruled Monday.
Alemany, who had a history of psychiatric hospitalizations, was convicted of first degree murder for kidnapping Lord as she left her South Boston home for the gym on July 23, 2013, forcing her to make five ATM withdrawals and then stabbing her 40 times in Hyde Park.
Lord was one of three women Alemany attacked during a 22-hour period in South Boston. The two other women survived — Lord was the second of the victims attacked during that period — and testified against him during his 2015 Suffolk Superior Court trial where his defense team unsuccessfully raised an insanity defense.
In his appeal, Alemany’s lawyer said the trial Judge Frank M. Gaziano, who is now on the Supreme Judicial Court, misspoke when instructing jurors on how they should consider Alemany’s mental health and use of drugs during that 22-hour period.
In the unanimous ruling, Justice Elspeth B. Cypher wrote that Gaziano’s error did not violate Alemany’s right to a fair trial and in fact heightened the challenge facing Suffolk County prosecutors.
“We conclude that the judge’s instructions contained an error of law but that the error did not result in a substantial likelihood of miscarriage of justice,” Cypher wrote. “There was an overwhelming amount of evidence consisting of victim and witness accounts, out-of-court and in-court identifications, surveillance footage, and forensic evidence.”
Gaziano did not take part in the SJC case.
Alemany claimed the trial prosecutor John Pappas inflamed the jury against him by describing the three incidents as a “real life horror story” in an opening statement, but the SJC disagreed because it accurately summarized what happened to three women that day.
The defense also argued that during the closing, Pappas told jurors that Lord will never be escorted down the aisle by her father at her wedding and that Lord’s “forever age” was 24 since that was how old she was when she was murdered.
“We conclude that certain of the prosecutor’s statements were improper,” Cypher wrote. “the prosecutor is permitted to humanize the defendant [but] the reference to Lord never being able to ‘walk down the aisle with her dad on her wedding day, however, exceeded the bounds of excusable hyperbole...Nonetheless, the remarks do not warrant reversal of the defendant’s convictions.”
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins issued a statement after the ruling, thanking Boston police for solving Lord’s murder.
Her office advocated for Alemany’s conviction to be upheld “because it was secured constitutionally and ethically,” she said.
Rollins, the district attorney since 2019, was not in office at the time of Lord’s murder.
“The investigation leading to the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Alemany was conducted professionally and with integrity,” she said in the statement. “This defendant received a fair trial and the jury found him guilty. That verdict has been maintained and justice has been done.”
Alemany is incarcerated at the Old Colony Correctional Center, a medium security facility in Bridgewater.
Correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this story.