By Jim Smith
BOSTON — The long-awaited murder trial of Jeffrey Bly, the accused killer of Boston prosecutor Paul McLaughlin, has begun in Suffolk Superior Court amid tight security.
Bly, who is 24, is charged with killing the 42-year-old assistant attorney general on Sept. 15, 1995, one day before McLaughlin was set to prosecute Bly for a carjacking offense.
Prosecutors say that Bly, a notorious gang leader, killed McLaughlin after Bly was unsuccessful in a conspiracy to kill the key witness against him in the carjacking case.
McLaughlin, son of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Edward McLaughlin, was shot in the face at close range as he got into his car at a West Roxbury commuter rail station. He died instantly, his keys clutched in his hand.
Within weeks after McLaughlin’s murder, Bly was successfully prosecuted by a friend and colleague of McLaughlin, Michael Pomarole. Bly was then sentenced to prison for 10 to 15 years.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
In June 1996, Boston homicide detectives visited Bly in prison and asked for a blood sample. After he refused to comply with that request, the investigators gathered up cigarette butts and a bottle of water used by Bly during that interrogation.
Prosecutors say that DNA evidence gathered from those items matches samples taken from clothing discarded on railroad tracks near the crime scene.
Defense lawyer Joan Stanley is expected to try to discredit the DNA evidence and the testimony of some of Bly’s former associates who are prepared to testify against him.
McLaughlin’s murder is considered the first-ever assassination of a prosecutor by a defendant in Massachusetts.
The start of the trial was postponed from Tuesday to Wednesday of this week after one juror was excused when he expressed fears for his safety.
Prosecution witnesses have expressed similar fears, prompting Judge James McDaniel to prohibit camera coverage of any non-expert civilian witnesses. The trial is expected to last about a month.