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DA drops murder case against man who spent 19 years in prison for death of his cousin; had been convicted in part on work by controversial Boston detective

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports it's formally dropped the murder case against Shaun Jenkins for the death of his cousin Stephen in Dorchester in 2001.

The DA's office said it found "errors and misconduct" in the original case against him - which relied heavily on the work of then BPD Detective Daniel Keeler, whose career might now be characterized as checkered.

In a statement, the DA's office says its predecessors withheld information from Jenkins's attorneys that might have bolstered his case that he didn't kill his cousin:

Among the items that the Commonwealth knew and did not disclose to the defendant: the victim was in phone contact with his drug supplier, Mike White, several times throughout the afternoon and evening of his death; that the victim owed White a significant debt; and that White was the last person Stephen called approximately 20 minutes before his shooting death. White lived less than two blocks away from the murder location and had a violent history. All of this information together would have been helpful to the defendant for a Third-Party Culprit defense (as in, someone other than the defendant killed the victim) or something called a Bowden defense (an allegation that the police investigation was insufficient). These defenses are often proffered in tandem but are separate and distinct from each other.

Additionally, the Commonwealth never disclosed, until recently, that Detective Keeler had paid a key witness $100 to testify before the grand jury. This witness had been unwilling to testify prior to the payment. Despite a specific discovery request by the defendant for any promises, rewards, or inducements, this was never disclosed. The defendant was unable to cross-examine this key witness and question his credibility regarding an implied payment for his testimony.

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They will never get justice.

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But so does imprisoning a man who didn't do it.

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Blame the cop but doesn't the real blame lie in the office of the District Attorney?

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Sadly but not too surprisingly there is more to this story. According to recent Globe coverage, the key witness in that case was paid to testify. “After the 2005 conviction, the witness recanted. He worked with lawyers, signed four affidavits, and alleged Keeler had coerced his testimony.”

In October of this year, two detectives flew to Virginia to convince the witness to change his story again. “The witness changed his story again, telling Devane he was sticking with his original testimony.” Makes one wonders how they talked him into it this time.

The biggest problem with BPD (and other police departments) is not their flaws; we all have them. It’s the fact that they play by their own rules, claim to be infallible, and would much rather keep innocent folks in jail for decades (black men mostly) than root out the criminals among the police force. The Netflix show Trial 4 provides an epic illustration of that mindset.

Oh, and those who may be concerned about detective Keeler’s welfare needn’t worry too much; according to that same article we (tax payers) are nicely providing for him with a six figure a year pension.


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