By Jim Smith
BOSTON — The long-awaited trial of the accused killer of Boston prosecutor Paul R. McLaughlin is set to begin within days.
McLaughlin was shot in the face as he got into his car at a commuter rail station in West Roxbury on Sept. 25, 1995 after finishing work at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
McLaughlin, the 42-year-old son of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Edward McLaughlin, was murdered one day before he was to prosecute Jeffrey Bly for a carjacking offense.
Prosecutors say that Bly, who is now 24, killed McLaughlin after Bly had unsuccessfully conspired to kill the key witness in the case against him. That witness, Dana Allston, was paralyzed in an aborted murder attempt and was receiving police protection as he prepared to testify against Bly.
McLaughlin had failed to win convictions against Bly in two earlier trials in 1996, one for a drive-by shooting and one for drug dealing.
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Bly, who had a reputation for intimidating and silencing witnesses against him in previous cases, had reportedly tried to stare down McLaughlin in a courtroom corridor during a chilling confrontation one week before the murder.
Prosecutors are expected to call several of Bly’s gang associates to testify against him. Other key evidence may include DNA obtained from discarded clothing and from cigarette butts smoked by Bly during an interrogation by Boston homicide investigators.
The murder of McLaughlin capped a weekend of horror for the Hub’s Irish-American community. Two days earlier, on Sept. 23, 1996, Irish student Orla Benson was savagely raped and murdered by Pedro Rosario. He was convicted on June 13, 1997 in Suffolk Superior Court.
Judge James McDaniel Jr., who sentenced Rosario to two consecutive life terms for Benson’s murder, is also presiding over the McLaughlin case.