A Suffolk Superior Court judge has ruled that there will not be a second retrial for two men convicted in a grisly 1986 double-murder in Copp’s Hill Park, despite the defendants’ argument that DNA evidence used to convict them was incorrect.
The 28-page-decision delivered Wednesday by Judge Robert Mulligan said abundant eye-witness accounts of the slayings provided enough evidence to uphold the conviction of Louis Costa, Mulligan denied a parallel motion for retrial filed last year by Costa’s accomplice Frank DiBenedetto, a statement from Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
“The defendant bears the burden of proving that the evidence alleged to be newly discovered ‘casts real doubt on the justice of the conviction,’ ” Mulligan’s decision said. “The defendant here, relying upon naught but gossamer inferences and speculation, has failed to meet that burden.”
Costa and DiBenedetto were convicted of killing Frank Chiuchiolo and Joseph Bottari in 1988. During the trial, witnesses — including a friend of the victims and a lawyer who watched the shootings from his apartment — described a scene in which Costa and DiBenedetto shot the victims 23 times during a shady cocaine deal gone bad in the North End park, which used to be called Slye Park.
Those convictions were overturned in 1992 by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, which found that the defendants did not receive a fair trial because a key witness fled the state and could not be cross-examined by defense attorneys.
The pair were tried and convicted again in a 1994 trial, during which the prosecution introduced new evidence that blood, possibly from the two victims, was found on DiBenedetto’s shoe.
In 2009, Mulligan denied an appeal by Costa and DiBenedetto for a new trial based on DNA tests run on the shoe, the district attorney’s office said. The pair appealed that decision to the Supreme Judicial Court, which remanded the case to Mulligan for further findings in 2011.
Conley said Mulligan’s most recent decision is the final chapter in the case.
“The evidence against these defendants is as strong today as it was in 1986,” Conley said in the statement.
“No amount of sophistry can detract from the clear and compelling evidence of both defendants’ guilt. The first jury got it right in 1988, the second jury got it right in 1994, and Judge Mulligan got it right in this decision.”
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