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Another Slam Dunk Case Turns into Airball

Boston Herald (MA) Copyright (c) 2004 Boston Herald. All rights reserved.

November 10, 2004

Section: News Another slam dunk‘ case turns into airball PETER GELZINIS

The homicide detective groaned when he heard the news. For the second time in six months, a so-called “slam dunk” murder case – pieced together by the veteran cop once known as Mr. Homicide, Sgt. Detective Daniel Keeler – had gone south.

Last spring, Kyle Bryant walked away from his role in the grotesque beating and burying of 14-year-old Chauntae Jones.

Yesterday, another Suffolk County jury acquitted James Bush in the shooting death of 3-year-old Malik An- drade-Percival during a botched home invasion in 2002.

“You know that’s going to be their (the defense) strategy from now on,” sighed the cop, “Make Danny the is- sue wherever they can. It’s sort of a goddamn shame to tell you the truth. Because Danny really was one of the hardest working guys when he was in the (homicide) unit.

“But that’s what happens when your reputation rolls back on you. The negative press, like the Fox-25 thing, creates its own momentum, especially with a public who wants to believe we’re all like (Detective) Sipowicz on ‘NYPD Blue.’ “

Rosemary C. Scapicchio, the lawyer who secured James Bush’s freedom yesterday, left absolutely no doubt about the role Danny Keeler played in her defense.

“When the lead (homicide) detective lies under oath,” she said, “files false reports and gets descriptions from witnesses that don’t stand up under questioning . . . then, yes, I’d say that’s more than crucial.”

The witnesses Scapicchio spoke of were Malik Andrade-Percival’s mother and father. Belmira Andrade and Ian Percival identified Bush in court as the armed invader who tried to force his way into their Dorchester home. Both testified they had separately selected his picture from an array Keeler provided and went on to pick him out of a lineup.

For his part, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley believed Malik’s parents provided the jury with exactly “the kind of compelling evidence” they needed to return a guilty verdict.

Yet, Scapicchio was able to expose a contradiction between the parents’ initial description of the invader and the amount of extra detail contained in Keeler’s report.

In a Perry Mason moment, the jury saw Keeler admit his report included a false claim of videotaping the crime scene. He also wrote that a homicide colleague had interviewed witnesses at the scene when in actuality he was not there.

“The police figured they solved this case in 11 days,” Scapicchio said, “and did no further investigation.”

As an example, Scapicchio cited the gun Ian Percival was arrested with four months before his toddler’s death. A check revealed that gun had been used in four incidents, any one of which, according to Scapicchio, could have produced a suspect looking to wreak havoc at 79 Barry St. But she said none of the earlier shooting incidents were investigated.

Though the jury never got to meet one Andre Ramsey, he was the thug who allegedly “gave up” James Bush to the cops for future consideration, claiming he’d done a previous home invasion with him.

Unfortunately, when it came time for Andre Ramsey to tell the same story in open court, he ran away.

Belmira Andrade and Ian Percival had nothing but good things to say about the police. “They caught the killer,” Belmira Andrade said. And Rosemary Scapicchio doesn’t doubt for a moment that Malik’s parents be- lieve that deep in their hearts. What else can they believe? “I feel awful for them,” she said, “but the fact is my guy didn’t do this. And the jury saw the truth in that.”

In the end, Dan Conley was left to wonder about a case that had no forensic evidence and a jury that may have been conditioned by what he called “the CSI effect.”

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