By Jim Smith
BOSTON — The federal appeals court in Boston last week granted suspended police officer Ken Conley a stay of his 34-month prison sentence until the U.S. Supreme Court determines whether it will hear his case.
The development came as a pleasant surprise for Conley and his supporters, who were expecting that Conley, 30, would report late last week to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., to begin serving his sentence.
Willie Davis, Conley’s lawyer, told the Echo that Conley is "breathing a little easier" now that his incarceration has been put on hold.
According to family members, Conley had prepared himself psychologically for his entry into the prison system. He even married his girlfriend two weeks ago and gave his dog to a family friend.
Conley was convicted of one count of perjury in June 1998 after he told a federal grand jury that he had not seen a fellow police officer, Michael Cox, moments before Cox was beaten by fellow officers. Conley and his supporters, who now include at least one of the jurors who convicted him, claim that Conley was pursuing one of four murder suspects at the time of Cox’s beating and had no awareness of the plainclothes officer’s presence at the chaotic, dimly lit scene of the pursuit, which involved about 45 responding police officers.
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Davis hopes to have an opportunity to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that the federal judge erred when he permitted a member of the grand jury that had indicted Conley in 1997 to testify against him at the trial.
Meanwhile, support for Conley is growing nationally, and a second demonstration was held outside the federal courthouse last week.