PLYMOUTH — As prosecutors move to retry Darrell Jones, whose conviction for a 1985 murder was vacated two years ago, they could be limited in the evidence they can present against him.
More than 33 years after Guillermo Rodriguez was shot and killed in a parking lot outside a bar in Brockton, a judge recently struck down some previous testimony as inadmissible. And some witnesses are saying their memories have faded.
Jones spent 32 years in prison before Superior Court Judge Thomas F. McGuire Jr. ruled that Jones did not get a fair trial, citing allegations that detectives tampered with a videotaped recording of a key witness and a juror’s statement that two other members of the jury said they thought Jones was guilty because he is black.
Jones’s trial is slated to begin this week. Plymouth County prosecutors are asking Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II to decide whether three of Rodriguez’s friends, who were outside Pete & Mary’s bar in Brockton on the night of the killing, must testify in front of a new jury.
Two of the friends told a detective they did not want to be involved with the case, although they came to Plymouth Superior Court on Monday. The third friend took the stand and said she no longer remembered details from that night.
Lisa Pina, now 55 and living in Plymouth, said she remembered seeing a man on the ground as she was leaving the bar on Nov. 11, 1985. She said she remembered running back into the bar to tell the bartender to call for an ambulance.
She told the judge she recalled a Brockton detective she knew, Joe Smith, telling her that Rodriguez had died. He showed her photos of six men and urged her to pick out a suspect, she said.
She remembered testifying about the case in court, but could not recall every detail, she said.
“I remember going there and I remember telling them that Detective Smith was badgering me about picking a picture and kept on saying, ‘Pick a picture, pick a picture,’ ” Pina said.
Beyond that, her memory is no longer reliable, she said.
“I don’t know. It’s been so long, I don’t know,” Pina said. “I was 22 years old, probably. I’m 55 now.”
Moriarty asked the other two friends, Terri Lynn Starks and Edna Duquette, to return to court Tuesday to testify about what they remembered from that night.
Before he ended the hearing, Moriarty asked Pina if she remembered details she testified to three decades ago, describing Jones by his nickname, “Diamond.”
“Do you remember her [Starks] saying, ‘he has a gun, he has a gun on him’?” Moriarty asked. “And then she said, ‘that Diamond, that damn Diamond.’ Do you recall that?”
“No, I don’t,” Pina said.
Moriarty also read part of Pina’s grand jury testimony — “I’ve never seen Diamond in my life. … I had to pick one out, I picked a picture, and so it happened to be him.”
“Do you recall saying that before the grand jury?” Moriarty asked.
“No,” Pina said.
Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.