Man who spent more than 35 years in prison for Roslindale murder freed after DA acknowledges verdict might have been wrong

A Suffolk Superior Court judge today freed Frederick Clay from prison, where he had been serving a life term for the murder of a cab driver at Roslindale's Archdale project in November, 1979, "after a reinvestigation by the DA’s Conviction Integrity Program led [DA Dan] Conley to conclude that justice may not have been done at Clay’s 1981 trial," a spokesman said today.

Clay was nearing release in any case because of a Supreme Court decision restricting the use of lifetime sentences for teenagers. Clay was 16 when he was convicted for his alleged role in Jeffrey Boyajian's murder by men he had driving to Archdale from the Combat Zone.

Conley’s assent to Clay’s 2016 motion and decision to end all proceedings against him followed a detailed examination of the evidence at trial, which included identifications by two witnesses – one a cab driver who was hypnotized after viewing three men entering Boyajian’s cab in Boston’s Combat Zone in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 1979, and the other a developmentally-disabled young man whose apartment overlooked the spot where Boyajian was shot five times in the head during a robbery. Investigators attempted to hypnotize this witness as well, though they believed this attempt was unsuccessful.

The results of the re-investigation into Clay’s role in the murder – which entailed post-conviction DNA testing of evidence still in law enforcement custody and the delivery of some 200 pages of documentation sought by his post-conviction counsel – did not offer conclusive proof of his innocence, Conley said, but they raised significant doubt as to the fairness of his trial and the justice of his conviction.

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      Hypnosis was a fairly common police tactic from 60s-90s

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      Hypnosis was a fairly common and controversial investigative "tool" from the 60s to the 90s and is still used in some cases, although the courts have put a lot of limits on it. For a while, Boston Police had their own Hypnosis Unit. This Christian Science Monitor article from 1982 gives both sides of the issue and mentions BPD. Once DNA analysis was perfected I think they got away from it.

      Two big things you can do:

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      1. Demand that Frederick Clay get all the help he needs in re-establishing himself and living well in his remaining years.
      2. Fight contemporary injustices due to our presumption of guilt and willingness to bypass just process to punish people. I'm looking close to home: at UH commenters' standard response to someone charged with an offense.