Man goes on trial for murder in West Roxbury 25 years ago
Jury selection started yesterday for a former Hyde Park man charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend outside her West Roxbury home in 1988.
Michael Coker, now 50, is charged with first-degree murder for the strangulation death of Janet Phinney, then 20. Prosecutors charge Coker killed her in a rage after she broke off their relationship, then buried her body under leaves in woods behind her parents' home on Cedar Road.
Coker was arrested in 2011 after Boston Police were able to use new forensics techniques to determine that not only was DNA found on the victim from Coker but that "the biological evidence [with Coker's DNA] had been deposited into the victim's body within 24 hours of her death," the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reported at the time.
Shortly after noon on March 18, 1988, a witness spotted him yelling at her at the corner of Washington and Grove streets. She went back home. A relative saw her around 12:45, then left for work. That was the last time anybody besides Coker saw her alive, prosecutors say. A neighbor found her body face down in leaves three days later.