Skip to content Skip to footer


Superior Court Justice Allows Sean Ellis's Motion for New Trial on Firearm Offense

BOSTON, Mass. [May 4, 2021] – Today, Superior Court Associate Justice Robert Ullman allowed Sean Ellis’s Motion for New Trial on the gun conviction remaining on his record from his wrongful conviction for the 1993 murder of Boston Police Detective John Mulligan, which was overturned in 2015 after Mr. Ellis spent more than 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Attorneys Rosemary Scapicchio and Jillise McDonough filed a motion for new trial on the gun conviction on December 9, 2020. On March 17, 2021, District Attorney Rachael Rollins filed her agreement with that motion, stating (among other things) that “[c]orruption at the root tainted every branch of the investigation into Detective Mulligan’s murder, including the gun possession charge.” The District Attorney said that if the Court allows the motion for new trial, her office will file a nolle prosequi, ending the prosecution of the case.

Judge Ullman gave his decision orally, stating “This whole case is a very sad chapter in the history of the criminal justice system. Thankfully, this chapter seems to be nearing its conclusion.” He indicated that “justice was not done” in this case because exculpatory evidence that might have changed the outcome of Mr. Ellis’s trial was not provided to him.

Statement from Attorneys Rosemary Scapicchio and Jillise McDonough:
We are grateful to Judge Ullmann and to DA Rollings for acknowledging so clearly that with withholding of exculpatory evidence results in an unjust trial. Here the actions of the Boston Police in actively concealing their corruption and withholding evidence resulted in Sean Eillis serving 22 years of a life sentence for a crime he did not commit. It took 29 years to get here, but never once, did we waiver and justice prevailed.

Sean Ellis is the subject of the Netflix docuseries, Trial 4. Since his release from prison, Sean has made significant contributions to his community, working at Community Servings, a Boston nonprofit, serving on the Board of Trustees of the New England Innocence Project, and leading the charge to provide resources to others wrongfully convicted through the Exoneree Network, a collaboration between the CPCS Innocence Program, the Boston College Innocence Program, and the New England Innocence Project.