Saturday, February 23, 2013

Peter Reilly proven innocent of Murder, despite the evidence, the Police still say he did it.

Justice, honesty and integrity are something that is in your character or isn't. If it isn't, a lot of innocent people will pay for your character defect. And that is wrong.

Truth is the "Daughter of Time" 

As George Santayana once said, those who do not learn the lessons of history, are doomed to repeat them.

The Peter Reilly murder case from Wikipedia

In 1973, Catherine Roraback faced yet another controversial case that impacted the Connecticut courts profoundly. Peter Reilly, an 18-year-old from Litchfield County, Connecticut, was accused of sexually assaulting and brutally murdering his mother, Barbara Gibbons, on September 28, 1973, after returning from a youth meeting at his church. Reilly arrived home and called the police after discovering his mother's mutilated body. When the police arrived they questioned Reilly about what happened and believed him to be acting suspiciously. They subjected him to over 25 hours of interrogation before he finally confessed to the crime. The police made him sign a formal confession before going on trial. Peter Reilly asked Roraback to represent him, as he was sure that he would be sentenced to years in prison without strong legal assistance. Roraback agreed to defend Reilly because she truly believed in his innocence and believed that the police had forced him to confess after hours of mental and emotional torture. Her determination to prove his innocence and expose the corruption that Reilly was subjected to was so strong that she agreed to take on the case for an infinitesimal amount of money. Despite lack of evidence against Reilly and the doubts that most people had regarding the validity of the confession, Roraback could do nothing to persuade the court that he was innocent, the argument being that he had signed a formal confession. Peter Reilly was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 6 to 16 years in prison.
Roraback appealed the trial immediately, refusing to allow the court to get away with the conviction based on a forced confession. Soon after hearing the conviction, many friends and neighbors of Reilly's began to assist him in his campaign to be proven innocent. Among them was playwright Arthur Miller, who made the case a public issue and alerted The New York Times of the case and asked them to investigate. The outcome of the second case did not look promising for Reilly, as the prosecutor continued to stress the point that Reilly had confessed to the murder. However, as the case continued, the prosecutor, John Bianchi, died suddenly and was replaced. The new prosecutor quickly found details and extensive evidence that showed that Reilly was miles away from his house when the murder happened. Upon discovering this evidence, the judge dropped all charges against Reilly and Roraback had successfully proved of his innocence. The case was very significant in Connecticut because the public began to feel that the police were not to be trusted, as they forced a man to sign a confession of murder when he was clearly innocent.
The case reopened in 2004 when Peter Reilly demanded to see the files from the case. Though he was found innocent, he still felt it necessary to uncover who had murdered and sexually assaulted his mother. However, State police were reluctant to release the files to the public, a notion that angered many who felt that the murder should be solved. The Freedom of Information Commission eventually ruled that the police were obligated to release the files but were not required to release those mentioning Peter Reilly. Wikipedia

A really good TV Movie which gave the facts

I was a kid in 1973 and remember this case well. Peter had come home from a church social and found his Mom,  Barbara Gibbons, viciously raped and murdered, their house was a horrendous, bloody crime scene. Peter immediately called the police. Within a few minutes they arrived. They forced Peter to strip naked and minutely examined his body for any traces of the crime.  Barbara's body and the crime scene indicated a vicious fight had taken place. They found no evidence on Peter's body to support the fact that he was the perpetrator. Peter said over and over again, he had nothing to do with it. They took Peter into custody, where further questioning took place at the state police barracks. Then Peter was given a lie detector test. Afterward the examiner told Peter that he knew Peter was guilty, the lie detector test proved it and offered that same opinion in his official report. Peter kept saying I don't remember doing it. And he continued to protest his innocence, but no one was listening and no one was on his side. Eventually this avalanche of accusations had their effect on Peter. In a rambling, incoherent confession he basically said I must have done it, but I don't remember doing it. It is an amazing thing to read. Much like the Central Park Rapist Case, it is easier to prove something you already believe, than to let the evidence take you to the truth.

I was Peter's age and it was deeply troubling to think that the same thing could have happened to me. I actually thought about going to Connecticut and helping the defense anyway if I could. If I had had the money I would have. That's isn't a theory. That is a fact.

Subsequently, other people have looked at Peter's lie detector results and have been stunned. The examiner's conclusion are in no way justified in the test results. They feel his conclusions are without foundation. Some have even ventured that the police had come to the conclusion that Peter did it, without any evidence to support it, and the examiner either deluded himself into thinking Peter did it, coloring his professional opinion, or was testilying to support their opinion.

Proof of Peter's Innocence was there from the very beginning

The District Attorney, John Bianchi, was contacted by a witness who saw Peter driving home from a church youth group on the night of the murder. The witness was rushing home to catch a TV show. He made it home just in time, which gave a specific time for when he saw Peter, whom he recognized. The only problem for the prosecution and police was that it was ten minutes later than the police had stated in their timeline for the investigation. This new timeline made it impossible for Peter to have committed the crime; there simply wasn't enough time.  Oh, by the way, the witness was above reproach, he was a Connecticut State Trooper.

The DA did not reveal this during the trial and did not give this exculpatory evidence to the Peter's Defense as required by law.
Now, requests for information from the local and state police who have always held the Peter did, in fact, commit the murder, have led to the discovery that pertinent information has mysteriously disappeared or been erased.

The local community, including famed Playwright Arthur Miller(Death of a Salesman), Author Joan Barthel(who wrote the book about the case) and Author William Styron, rallied to Peter's cause. The people who knew Peter and his mother didn't believe that Peter was guilty for a second. If you have a chance find a copy of Joan's book, it will take you through the story and show you how Peter's conviction was a miscarriage of justice. It is well worth the price.

Arthur with his wife Marilyn Monroe, his help gave a great boost of publicity about the case.

These supporters brought in world famous expert and forensic specialist, New York City Medical Examiner, Dr. Milton Helpern. He immediately came to the conclusion after examining pictures of the crime scene and medical reports that it was impossible for Peter to have committed the crime and have no traces on his person or clothes. He also concluded that the timeline that the police were using was impossible as well. And this is before the witness statement suppressed by Prosecutor Bianchi came to light, which gave Peter 10 fewer minutes to have committed the crime.


Sept. 28: At some time between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m., Barbara Gibbons, 51, is murdered in her Falls Village home, probably by more than one assailant and almost surely while she puts up a fight for her life. She is stabbed many times and almost beheaded by deep throat slashes. Her nose, three ribs and both thigh bones are broken. Her body is mutilated and internal injuries are inflicted by the sexual use of an unknown weapon. There is a great loss of blood.

The victim’s son, Peter A. Reilly, 18, returns home from a youth center board meeting at Canaan Methodist Church just moments after the assault. Discovering his mother’s body on the bedroom floor, he makes five telephone calls for medical assistance. The calls bring a state police cruiser and the Canaan volunteer ambulance as well as friends within minutes.

As other police personnel arrive, led by the Canaan barracks commandant, Lt. James Shay, Peter Reilly is regarded as a suspect. He is questioned and searched. After his constitutional rights are read to him, a statement is taken down, including his estimation that he arrived home at 9:50-9:55 and his belief that, as he saw his mother on the floor, “She was having problems breathing and she was gasping.” He states, “I didn’t touch my mother but went straight to the telephone.”

Sept. 29: Soon after 2 a.m., four hours after the homicide, Reilly is taken from his home to the Canaan barracks. He waits four more hours until Lieutenant Shay arrives to again read him his rights and begin an hour and a half interrogation. Reilly asks, “Am I actually a suspect?” He is told that he is. Perceiving that his story is not believed, he volunteers for a “lie detector” and is told that one will be arranged.

After 25 sleepless hours, Reilly is permitted four hours rest in a barracks bedroom. Meantime, a six-hour autopsy of the victim’s body is underway, conducted at Sharon Hospital by Dr. Ernest M. Izumi. He and the state medical examiner, Dr. Elliot Gross, had earlier examined the body at the murder scene. Dr. Izumi’s opinion that some of the blows and wounds were inflicted after breathing had stopped reinforces Lieutenant Shay’s suspicions of Reilly because the suspect said he thought he heard his mother breathing.

At noon, Reilly is driven to Hartford for a polygraph test that is coupled with a tape-recorded interrogation by Lieutenant Shay and three other officers that continues for some eight hours until almost 11 p.m. Statements that he slashed his mother’s throat with a straight razor and jumped on her legs before phoning for emergency aid are put in writing. After signing the confession, he is arrested, fingerprinted and driven back to Canaan.

Milton Halpern the Medical Examiner for the City of New York and one of the finest forensic experts in the country testified that whoever committed this horrendous crime had to have been injured or show traces of the crime in its commission. Peter Reilly was strip searched by the police on the scene within minutes of the crime, there were no marks or injuries on his body. Dr. Halpern indicated that that was not only highly improbable, given the timeline, it must be considered impossible. There was no time for Peter to have cleaned himself up if he was the murderer.

To get a sense of the story and the efforts of the police to convict Peter, read this commentary from 2013 in the Hartford Courant:

Peter Talks about the Hell he went through
To be kept awake for many hours, confused, fatigued, shocked that your only family was gone, in a strange and imposing place, surrounded by police who continue to tell you that you must have done this horrible thing and that nobody cares or has asked about you, . . . assured by authorities you don’t remember things, being led to doubt your own memory, having things suggested to you only to have those things pop up in a conversation a short time later but from your own lips . . . under these conditions you would say and sign anything they wanted. (Peter Reilly, 1995)

 "Disillusioned, divorced, unemployed, and recently back in Connecticut after bouncing through a series of low-paying jobs in other states. At the end of that interview, Reilly revealed what it was about the entire affair that most puzzled and distressed him. Interestingly, it was not the puzzle of how he could be persuaded to confess falsely to a murder."
It should break any civilized person's heart that Peter's Mom was murdered and the final horror he was blamed for the crime. The one comfort and, I hope Peter realizes this,  a lot of people care about him and wish him only the best.
And that he has a lot of friends that he never met. Maybe someday he will.


In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ruth Epstein and
The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC,

against Docket #FIC 2003-320
State of Connecticut,
Department of Public Safety,
Division of State Police
Respondents September 2, 2004

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 22, 2004, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated for hearing with docket #FIC 2003-313, Donald S. Connery v. State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.

2. By letter of complaint filed September 8, 2003, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying their request for records of the homicide of Barbara Gibbons. That case is commonly known as the Peter Reilly case, because of the conviction, ultimately set aside in 1977, of the victim’s teenaged son in 1974.

3. It is found that by letter dated June 26, 2003 the complainants requested the complete state police file on the Barbara Gibbons homicide case, from September 28, 1973 to the present. Specifically, the complainants indicated that the records in the file “should include, but not be limited to, all data on the original investigation, led by Lt. James Shay, that resulted in the manslaughter conviction of Peter Reilly on April 12, 1974; and all data on the reinvestigation in 1976-77, as requested by Governor Ella Grasso and led by Captain Thomas McDonnell, following the vacating of Reilly’s conviction.”

4. It is found that the respondent replied by letter dated July 1, 2003 that the complainants’ request had been received, and then by letter dated August 28, 2003 denied the request on the grounds that the investigation was still pending and that the records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(3), G.S.

5. It is further found that, by letter dated November 28, 2003, the respondent added that “upon further review of this matter … determined that pursuant to C.G.S. Sec. 1-215 and 54-142a, there is no public record in response to your request.”

6. The respondent maintains that there are no public records responsive to the complainant’s request, and that the Commission therefore lacks jurisdiction over the complaint, pursuant to §§54-142a(a) and 1-215(a), G.S.

7. Section 54-142a(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

Whenever in any criminal case, on or after October 1, 1969, the accused, by a final judgment, is found not guilty of the charge or the charge is dismissed, all police and court records and records of any state's attorney pertaining to such charge shall be erased upon the expiration of the time to file a writ of error or take an appeal, if an appeal is not taken, or upon final determination of the appeal sustaining a finding of not guilty or a dismissal, if an appeal is taken….

8. Section 54-142a(e), G.S., provides in relevant part:

…any law enforcement agency having information contained in such erased records shall not disclose to anyone, except the subject of the record …information pertaining to any charge erased under any provision of this section….

9. With respect to disclosure to the subject of the record, §54-142a(f), G.S., provides in relevant part:

Upon motion properly brought, the court or a judge thereof, if such court is not in session, may order disclosure of such records (1) to a defendant in an action for false arrest arising out of the proceedings so erased ….

10. Section 54-142c(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

…any criminal justice agency having information contained in such erased records shall not disclose to anyone the existence of such erased record or information.

11. It is concluded that erasure does not mean the physical destruction of records. Rather it involves sealing the files and segregating them from materials that have not been erased and protecting them from disclosure. State v. Anonymous, 237 Conn. 501, 513 (1996)

12. Section 1-215(a), G.S. provides in relevant part:

Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes to the contrary, and except as otherwise provided in this section, any record of the arrest of any person, other than a juvenile, except a record erased pursuant to chapter 961a, shall be a public record from the time of such arrest and shall be disclosed in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212 and subsection (a) of section 1-210, except that disclosure of data or information other than that set forth in subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to the provisions of subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of section 1-210.

13. Section 1-215(b), G.S., provides:

For the purposes of this section, “record of the arrest” means (1) the name and address of the person arrested, the date, time and place of the arrest and the offense for which the person was arrested, and (2) at least one of the following, designated by the law enforcement agency: The arrest report, incident report, news release or other similar report of the arrest of a person.

14. Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:

“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

15. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

16. The respondent maintains that §1-215(a), G.S., provides that any erased record is not a public record.

17. It is concluded, however, that §1-215(a), G.S., by its terms specifically applies only to the limited information contained in a “record of arrest,” not to all erased records.

18. It is therefore concluded that the Commission has jurisdiction to determine whether records have been erased, and whether erased records are exempt from disclosure.

19. It is found that requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

20. It is found that Barbara Gibbons was killed in the home she shared with her son, Peter Reilly, an 18-year-old high school senior.

21. It is found that Reilly, who had arrived at home that night after a teen center meeting, reported the crime in a series of telephone calls for medical assistance.

22. It is found that Reilly was taken into custody and interrogated, made certain confessions, and was placed under arrest for the crime of murder.

23. It is found that, after a lengthy jury trial, Reilly was found guilty of the crime of manslaughter in the first degree on April 12, 1974.

24. It is found that Reilly subsequently petitioned for a new trial on the grounds of newly discovered evidence.

25. It is found that a new trial was granted on March 25, 1976. Reilly v. State, 32 Conn. Sup. 349 (1976) (Speziale, J.) In his memorandum of decision, Judge Speziale, who had also presided over the original trial, concluded that, “After a long and deliberate study of all of the transcripts of the original trial and the instant proceeding, together with the pleading and exhibits in both cases, this court concludes that an injustice has been done and that the result of a new trial would probably be different.” Reilly v. State, at 356-57.

26. It is found that, on November 24, 1976, Judge Maurice Sponzo dismissed the charges against Reilly, after State’s Attorney Dennis A. Santore determined not to prosecute Reilly for the Gibbons homicide.

27. It is found that on November 26, 1976, Governor Ella Grasso ordered the respondent to reinvestigate the Gibbons homicide, and asked Chief State’s Attorney Joseph Gormley to see if there had been misdeeds in the case by police or prosecutors.

28. It is found that on December 23, 1976, three days after Gormley reported that he had found nothing improper in the police and prosecution actions, Judge Speziale named a one-man grand jury to investigate possible crimes by the state in the handling of the Gibbons homicide. Judge Maurice Sponzo was appointed to conduct the inquiry, with the assistance of Paul McQuillan as special state’s attorney.

29. It is found that on June 1, 1977, Judge Sponzo’s report of his findings concluded that no crimes were committed by police or prosecutors, but he severely criticized the state’s handling of the case. Eliminating Peter Reilly as a suspect, Sponzo’s secret addendum to his report named five persons as suspects worthy of investigation.

30. It is found that on September 28, 1977, Captain Thomas J. McDonnell, the detective division commander who led the state police reinvestigation ordered by Governor Grasso, issued his 58-page report. Eliminating all other suspects, he came to “the inescapable conclusion” that Peter Reilly “is, in fact, the sole perpetrator in the Barbara Gibbons homicide.”

31. It is found that on November 22, 1977, Judge Sponzo added the words “with prejudice” to the dismissal of the manslaughter charges against Reilly ordered a year previously.

32. It is found that on June 2, 1978, Governor Grasso authorized a $20,000 reward for information leading to the solution of the Gibbons homicide, but no individuals were subsequently charged with the crime.

33. It is found that the police and court records of the Gibbons homicide as they pertain solely to the charges against Mr. Reilly were erased by operation of law no later than 1978.

34. The complainants maintain that given the heightened public interest in the Reilly case, and continuing assertions since 1980 by present and former state police officials and employees of Reilly’s guilt, the records should be disclosed so that the public may know whether the respondent conducted its investigation and prosecution properly.

35. The complainants additionally maintain that the requested records must be disclosed because they were disclosed, at least in part, to a reporter sometime in 1988.

36. While it appears that a redacted disclosure was in fact made to a reporter at the Lakeville Journal who was writing an anniversary story at the time, it is concluded that the erasure statutes contain no provisions for waiver, and that such a disclosure would not affect the status of the records as erased.

37. On February 19, 2004 the Commission received what appears to be an affidavit of Peter Reilly, stating his desire that the requested records be disclosed, and waiving any privacy rights that he might have.

38. However, Mr. Reilly is not a party to this case, nor has he requested to be made one. Nor did any party offer Mr. Reilly’s affidavit into evidence. The affidavit is therefore not properly before the Commission. Even if it were, the erasure statutes have been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that the blanket prohibition against disclosure also applies to the person who was the defendant in the criminal case, and that the erasure provisions may not be waived by him. Lechner v. Holmberg, 165 Conn. 152, 161-62 (1973); State v. West, 192 Conn. 488, 495-96 (1984).

39. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate §1-210(a), G.S., when it failed to provide copy of erased records that pertained solely to the dismissed charges against Mr. Reilly.

40. However, the complainants maintain that, even if the records pertaining solely to Mr. Reilly have properly been erased, not all of the records of the Gibbons homicide pertain to Mr. Reilly, and that the records that do not pertain to Mr. Reilly are not erased by operation of §54-142a(a), G.S.

41. Based in part on the grand jury report described in paragraph 29, above, it is found that some of the records maintained by the respondent pertain to an investigation of the respondent’s conduct, separate and distinct from records pertaining to Mr. Reilly that are subject to erasure, and that some of the records also pertain to five other individuals deemed worthy of investigation.

42. The language of §54-142a, G.S., does not define the phrase “records … pertaining to such charge” that are to be erased. Specifically, the statute does not address the status of records that pertain to suspects and subjects other than the accused.

43. With respect to the erasure statute, the Supreme Court has stated that it should be construed to give it the “legal and practical effect” intended by its drafters, as revealed by the legislative history. Cislo v. Shelton, 240 Conn. 590, 608 (1997).

44. In State v. Anonymous, 237 Conn. 501, 516 (1996), the Supreme Court observed that the fundamental purpose of the records erasure and destruction scheme embodied in §54-142, G.S., is to “erect a protective shield of presumptive privacy for one whose criminal charges have been dismissed.” The purpose of the erasure statute is to protect innocent persons from the harmful consequences of a criminal charge which is subsequently dismissed.

45. In Cislo v. Shelton, 240 Conn. 590 (1997), the Supreme Court further indicated the central function of the erasure statute. Specifically, the court observed that the legal effect of erasure, as specified by a 1967 amendment (P.A. 67-181) to §54-90, G.S., is such that “[n]o person who shall have been the subject of such an erasure order shall be deemed to have been arrested ab initio ….” Cislo v. Shelton, supra at 600-601. Later legislative debate in 1974 demonstrated that the legislature primarily intended to reinforce the ability of those persons whose records had been erased after a nolle to state that, with respect to those erased charges, they had never been arrested. Id. at 604-605.

46. It is found that, given the extensive publicity surrounding Barbara Gibbons’ death, it would appear to be of little comfort to Mr. Reilly to be able to declare, because of the erasure statutes, that he was never arrested for the crime.

47. In Pascal v. Pascal, 2 Conn. App. 472, 484-85 (1984) the Appellate Court observed: “The beneficiaries of the provisions of General Statutes §54-142a are “only the accused in criminal cases …. The erasure of criminal records demanded by [that statute] is a personal right of the accused only.” (citing McCarthy v. FOIC, 35 Conn. Sup. 186, 193 (1979).)

48. In McCarthy v. FOIC, supra, the Superior Court (Bieluch, J.) held that the coverage of §54-142a, G.S., cannot be extended collaterally to records of complaints and disciplinary proceedings involving police officers associated with erased criminal cases.

49. It is concluded that records used to investigate the conduct of the respondent and its employees, and records pertaining to other persons who either were or should have been investigated as suspects in the crime of which Mr. Reilly was accused, are not shielded by the provisions of §54-142a, G.S.

50. It is found that the legislative purpose of the erasure statutes is clearly not served by shielding from public view information that might tend to implicate others in the crime of which the accused was acquitted, or that might cast light on the respondent’s investigation of the homicide, all without providing any functional protection to the accused.

51. The U.S. Supreme Court has observed, with respect to the federal counterpart to the FOI Act, that the purpose of that FOI Act is to shed light “on an agency’s performance of its statutory duties.” The statute is a commitment to “the principle that a democracy cannot function unless the people are permitted to know what their government is up to.” The statute’s “central purpose is to ensure that the Government’s activities be opened to the sharp eye of public scrutiny.” U.S. Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 772-774 (1989).

52. It is found that the result of erasure of records of the Barbara Gibbons homicide not pertaining to Mr. Reilly would be to support the respondent’s oft-repeated contention that Mr. Reilly is the actual killer, to prevent any possibility of bringing forth evidence that might exonerate Mr. Reilly, to frustrate the public’s legitimate public interest in the controversy, and to protect the identity of other individuals who might have been but were not charged with the crime. Such a result is directly contrary to a fundamental maxim of statutory construction:

“The law favors rational and sensible statutory construction…. The unreasonableness of the result obtained by the acceptance of one possible alternative interpretation of an act is a reason for rejecting that interpretation in favor of another which would provide a result that is reasonable…. When two constructions are possible, courts will adopt the one which makes the [statute] effective and workable, and not one which leads to difficult and possible bizarre results.

Maciejewski v. West Hartford, 194 Conn. 139, 151-52 (1984).

53. It is therefore concluded that records that do not pertain solely to Mr. Reilly, but rather pertain to an investigation of the respondent’s conduct and the respondent’s investigation of other individuals, are not erased by the operation of §54-142a, G.S.

54. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated §1-210(a), G.S., when it denied the existence of, and refused to provide copies, of records of the Barbara Gibbons homicide that do not pertain to the charges against Mr. Reilly, but rather pertain to an investigation of the respondent’s conduct and the respondent’s investigation of other individuals.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide to the complainants copies of records of the Barbara Gibbons homicide that do not solely pertain to the charges against Mr. Reilly. Such disclosed records shall include any records investigating, or used to investigate, the conduct of the respondent, and any records of the respondent’s investigation of inviduals other than Mr. Reilly.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of September 2, 2004.


Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission



Ruth Epstein and

The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC

c/o Alan Neigher, Esq.

1804 Post Road East

Westport, CT 06880

State of Connecticut,

Department of Public Safety,

Division of State Police

c/o Stephen R. Sarnoski, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105


Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

From the Hartford Courant

The small towns in Litchfield County rose to Peter Reilly's defense. To his friends and neighbors, his innocence was obvious.
Peter was amiable and law-abiding. They could not fathom how a dubious confession, obtained by high-pressure psychological persuasion, could triumph over the absence of evidence. Lt. James Shay and his investigators had to know Peter had no time to commit the crime — and no motive. The medical findings suggested at least two attackers.
Bake sales and other efforts raised $60,000 to free Peter on bond for the appeal. The convicted killer was welcomed back at his high school to complete his senior year. Roxbury playwright Arthur Miller organized a powerful rescue party — a new attorney, a crack investigator, the nation's leading forensic pathologist and a top expert on mind control.
Superb reporting by The Hartford Courant's Joseph A. O'Brien and critical editorials in the Lakeville Journal raised alarming questions about the state police investigation. The case became a national sensation.
After a long hearing for a new trial in 1976, Superior Court Judge John A. Speziale, the future state chief justice, declared that a "grave injustice" occurred in his courtroom two years earlier. State's Attorney John Bianchi dropped dead on a golf course before deciding to risk a second trial. His successor, Dennis Santore, discovered a time bomb: a critical document, never revealed to the defense or the court, placing Peter five miles away at the time the state claimed he was home killing his mother.
Astonishing events followed Peter's exoneration. A one-man grand jury investigation in 1977 condemned law enforcement's actions. A simultaneous nine-month state police reinvestigation, ordered by Gov. Grasso and led by Capt. Thomas McDonnell, reached an "inescapable conclusion" naming the "sole perpetrator" in the Barbara Gibbons killing — Peter Reilly.
Knowing that their conclusion would set off fireworks, the police sought public support by leaking their 58-page, confidential report before giving it to the governor.
"New Police Report Calls Reilly Slayer" was one headline regarding a bizarre new theory. Supposedly, upon arriving home, Peter backed his car over his mother. He then dragged her broken body into the bedroom to start his killing spree.
Gov. Grasso's legal counsel, Paul McQuillan, who was the prosecutor for Judge Maurice Sponzo's grand jury, was appalled by this monument of disinformation. Knowing that I spent three years on a just-finished book on the case, he gave me a copy of the secret police report. "Read it," he said. "Then do whatever you think best."
I was being used — the governor needed public support before taking on the state police — but I felt a need to act. At a Hartford press conference, I described the report's dozens of errors, denounced the rampant speculation, described the reinvestigation as a giant scam and called for the resignation or firing of the state police commissioner, Edward P. Leonard.
More important, State's Attorney Santore rejected the police report as "contrived," "unworthy" and "blatantly contradictory." The car theory was "completely untenable." He considered arresting Leonard.
The governor called Leonard in and he withdrew the McDonnell report. He resigned a few months later, but during a farewell tour of police barracks he told troopers it was about politics and public opinion, not mistakes. Thereafter, for decades, the department's answer to press inquiries about the Gibbons murder was, "We are satisfied with the result of our original investigation."

Actor Paul Clemens, who played Peter in the TV Movie, Author Joan Barthel who fought for Peter's Freedom and wrote the book, "A Death in Canaan" and Peter Reilly.

Thinking Analytically

Though it may sound trite, I remember reading Sherlock Holmes Stories as kid, their logic has stayed with me ever since. Having a critical mind, always looking for the real truth matters to me.

Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion which he had formed of my companion's ability, but I saw by the inspector's face that his attention had been keenly aroused.
     "You consider that to be important?" he [Inspector Gregory] asked.
     "Exceedingly so."
     "Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
     "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
     "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
     "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
     The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)
     Inspector Gregory and Sherlock Holmes in "Silver Blaze" (Doubleday p. 346-7)

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever...     

"You will not apply my precept," he said, shaking his head. "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? We know that he did not come through the door, the window, or the chimney. We also know that he could not have been concealed in the room, as there is no concealment possible. When, then, did he come?"
     The Sign of the Four, ch. 6 (1890)
     Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four (Doubleday p. 111)

 I read a book which is claimed by some, me included, to be the best mystery ever written. I read it when I was 10-years-old. Elizabeth Macintosh wrote "The Daughter of Time" under the pen name Josephine Tey. It is the story of an injured Scotland Yard Inspector, who is recovering in the hospital and needs something to occupy his time. He comes across a picture of King Richard III. Something troubling occurs to him, this man does not look like a murderer, much less the killer of his two nephews, twelve-year-old  King Edward V and his 10-year-old brother Richard Duke of York. He is driven to find the truth. When he does, he is perplexed by the fact that so many people could be so wrong.

The Guardian Newspaper(UK) ranked it second all time:

2. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Inspector Grant spends the entire book in a hospital bed, the murders happened more than 500 years ago, and you'd get more graphic violence in the phone book. To stop himself going nuts with boredom, and because Richard III's face interests him, Grant starts investigating who really killed the Princes in the Tower. The results aren't exactly what he expected. It's a fascinating piece of research that raises all kinds of questions about the accuracy of "history" but that never gets in the way of the fact that it's a beautifully constructed mystery.

It is predicated upon the premise, that what history records as the truth, isn't necessarily the truth.

On its publication Anthony Boucher called the book "one of the permanent classics in the detective field.... one of the best, not of the year, but of all time".
Dorothy B. Hughes also praised it, saying it is "not only one of the most important mysteries of the year, but of all years of mystery".
This book was voted number one in The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time list by the UK Crime Writers' Association in 1990.
Winston Churchill stated in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples his belief in Richard's guilt of the murder of the princes, adding, "It will take many ingenious books to raise the issue to the dignity of a historical controversy", probably referring specifically to Josephine Tey's novel, "The Daughter of Time" published seven years earlier. The papers of Sir Alan Lascelles contain a reference to his conversation with Churchill about the book.
In 2012, Peter Hitchens wrote that The Daughter of Time was "one of the most important books ever written".

Did Billy the Kid get justice?  NO!  

No comments: