Defense Looks to Suppress Statements Made by Newton Teen Charged with Murder
Benjamin Peirce is charged in connection with the shooting death of 29-year-old Adam Coveney of Waltham.
Lawyers for a Newton teen charged with murder are hoping a superior court judge will keep out certain evidence from their client's impending trial.
Benjamin Peirce, 18, appeared before Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman last Friday and again today for an evidentiary suppression hearing. After five hours of witness testimony on Friday and another hour today, the hearing has been continued to Thursday for additional testimony from local law enforcement.
According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, Peirce's lawyers are looking to suppress details regarding statements Peirce made to police.
Peirce, along with fellow Newton teen Shaquan Jacobs and Roxbury resident Daniel Louis, is charged with murder, armed robbery, possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit armed robbery (2 counts) and attempted armed robbery in connection with the shooting death of 29-year-old Adam Coveney of Waltham.
Peirce pled not guilty at his arraignment in November 2010.
On Friday, prosecution called forward three witnesses including State Police Lt. Alan Hunte, Waltham Police Detective Jorge Orta and Waltham Police Detective Patrick Hart.
During the testimonies, Assistant District Attorney Elisha Willis questioned Hunte, Orta and Hart on details of the night of the alleged shooting as well as the subsequent interview and booking of Peirce.
Meanwhile, Defense Attorney John Salsberg honed in on the specifics around the interview process with Peirce, and if any of the men violated protocol during the process.
Peirce, appeared in court both Friday and today wearing a blue-collared shirt and a tie. Each time he discreetly waved to the dozen friends and family members seated behind him in the courtroom.
Peirce has been allowed to remove his handcuffs during the proceedings in order to take notes.
Nearly 20 pieces of evidence have been brought forward by the prosecution, including images of text messages on Coveney's cell phone that were found the night of his death. Willis displayed a text message conversation between Coveney and a "Benny P" that led up to the time Coveney was found dead.
In addition, prosecution presented the 40-minute interview with Peirce after he was brought to Waltham Police Department on Oct. 1, 2010, the morning after the shooting. A 45-minute tape of Peirce's booking in Waltham was also shown.
Earlier today, the prosecution called forward Waltham Detective Jennifer Vadnais, who was the one to present Peirce a photo array during the interview process in Waltham.
A brief video of the photo array process with Peirce was also played before the court.
During a photo array, Vadnais explained that the person giving the array (in this case, Vadnais) has no prior knowledge of the case or the involvement of the person reviewing the array. This is known as a "blind presentation."
In addition, the person reviewing the array (in this case, Peirce) has no knowledge of whether a photo of a suspect or involved party is in the array.
As he has done with the other witnesses, Salsberg questioned specifics around the process Waltham Police took, and whether Detective Hart indicated prior to the array that police had included a photo of another suspect, therefore canceling the true "blind presentation" needed in an accurate photo array.
However, the hearing could not continue after Vadnais' testimony today as Detective Hart, who did not finish his testimony Friday, was not able to attend today's hearing due to illness. As a result, the hearing will continue next Thursday, Dec. 29, with more testimony from Hart as well as another state trooper and Peirce's mother, Deborah Peirce.