Edwin J. Alemany’s defense lawyer said Monday that the 28-year-old has a “significant history of psychiatric hospitalizations” but that it is premature to say whether he will use an insanity defense for Alemany, who faces murder and assault charges.
Alemany, who is being evaluated by the state at Bridgewater State Hospital for competency to help with his defense, is due in court Aug. 14 to face charges that he stabbed and strangled Amy Lord and attacked two other women over a 19-hour period in South Boston late last month.
Defense lawyer Jeffrey A. Denner said he has had preliminary meetings with Alemany and his family and intends to thoroughly review his psychiatric history.
But Alemany has not yet been arraigned, been found competent to stand trial, or been presented with the evidence against him, Denner said.
“We do not have any defense in mind,” Denner said. “We are mindful at this point of the fact that the court thinks he has psychiatric issues. We are mindful of the fact that he has a psychiatric history. We are mindful of the fact that crimes have occurred here.”
The defense team would only begin “thinking seriously about whether there’s a ‘state of mind’ defense,” or insanity defense, if Alemany is found competent to stand trial and after his legal team has reviewed evidence against him, Denner said.
Alemany initially faced charges of assaulting two women in South Boston in late July and was considered only a “person of interest” in Lord’s killing until authorities ran DNA tests that they said linked Alemany to that crime, prompting Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley last week to authorize a warrant charging Alemany with murder in Lord’s July 23 slaying.
Alemany, who most recently lived in South Boston, has been arrested more than a dozen times since age 18. Though he has faced assault charges in the past, his record consists mostly of charges like theft and trespassing, and more than half the cases against him were dismissed. None of the charges suggested a pattern of random attacks on women he did not know, though Alemany once kicked a nurse while being treated after an arrest for a car theft.
But police are reexamining an attack last September in which a young woman walking home in Roxbury was choked into unconsciousness. Though she did not get a clear look at her attacker, the woman managed to grab a wallet that police say contained Alemany’s identification card.
The detective investigating that attack, Jerome Hall-Brewster, did not pursue a case against Alemany at the time, saying authorities did not have probable cause to proceed. Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis took the rare step last week of stripping Hall-Brewster of his detective’s badge, though Hall-Brewster plans to appeal.
Davis also said police were combing reports for any unsolved cases of young women being attacked by a man fitting Alemany’s description.
He has been given no reason to believe Alemany will face additional charges, Denner said.
“There are a lot of issues here that need to be explored. This is a horrible situation, obviously — women have been assaulted, someone is dead — but it is very important that we understand that the American system of justice requires that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Denner, a prominent Boston defense attorney.
Denner’s past clients include Christian Gerhartsreiter, who was convicted in April of killing a California man in 1985 and had assumed the name Clark Rockefeller while living in Boston; former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who was charged with using state lottery advertising to promote his failed bid for governor in 2010; and the family of Milena Del Valle, a 38-year-old woman who died in 2006 when a concrete ceiling panel fell in a Big Dig tunnel in Boston.Maria Cramer of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Eric Moskowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GlobeMoskowitz.