BOSTON — A Massachusetts man who spent over two decades in prison for what a court is calling a wrongful murder and armed robbery conviction has been released from prison.
WCVB-TV reported that James Lucien, 48, was serving a life sentence in connection to the 1994 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Ryan Edwards.
“I feel good because I’m with my family now,” Lucien said Tuesday after Judge Robert Ullman cleared the convictions against him in Suffolk County Superior Court. “I’ve been waiting a whole 27 years for this, and now I have the opportunity to be free.”
Lucien’s defense attorney Dennis Toomey argued during a hearing that the murder and robbery convictions against his client should be tossed because of an improper police investigation.
“The heart of our appellate argument here is that the jury simply did not hear evidence they could have used to acquit Mr. Lucien, so he didn’t get due process,” Toomey said.
“Almost everywhere we look in this case, there are serious problems,” Special Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Jeanne Kempthorne said during the hearing.
The Suffolk County district attorney’s office said a former Boston police officer involved in Lucien’s case, Detective John Brazil, participated in a sprawling corruption scheme from 1990 to 1996 with other officers, in which they conspired to lie, rob and steal from drug dealers by submitting false warrant applications and then seize cash, representing drug trade proceeds, and kept it for themselves.
Brazil cooperated in a federal investigation and testified against Boston police detectives Kenneth Acerra and Walter Robinson, both of whom pleaded guilty, according to the district attorney’s office. Brazil was given immunity in exchange for his testimony and served no time. He is currently collecting a pension.
Edwards’s family members opposed Lucien’s release.
“I think it’s horrible,” said Dionne Richards, Edwards’ sister. “Now he’s free and there’s nobody to help our family, and my brother’s murder goes as another unsolved murder.”
Ullman urged Edwards’ family not to blame Lucien, but instead Brazil, who allegedly lied and tampered with evidence.
“It’s clear to me that justice may not have been done as to the murder and armed robbery charges,” the judge said.