The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on April 5, 1992 · 258
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 258

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Sunday, April 5, 1992
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258
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.22 NH THE BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE APRIL 5, 1992 Prisoner hopes hearing brings a new trial, a new life DMcOJE Continued from Page NH 1 wait for them to set me free, But only the truth holds the key. McCue, his family, friends and legal counsel say the truth may come out Tuesday when Superior Court Judge Robert Temple recalls the 12 jurors who convicted him Dec. 7, 1988, and questions them about alleged misconduct. McCue's attorneys say a juror may have acted improperly by contradicting testimony from a specialist on tire tracks called by the de- - Mi: i I twmwk ,t',! 514 1 f id. Wtxxien Patio Decks . Decks Gazebos Benches & Planters Screened Porches Walkways Written Warranty Serving All of New Hampshire For a no-obligation consultation, call now (fromNH) 1-800-649-5405 (603)664-5400 1990 U.S. Structures, Inc. ArrhjdofSo.N.H. AN WDPNDNTIT OPERATED OEALEFT fense. The man conducted an unorthodox experiment in a sandpit with his own vehicle and then shared the findings with the jury. And defense attorneys Richard Howe Sr. and Richard Howe Jr. of Lowell, say that on Tuesday, they will furnish Temple with testimony from a new witness in an effort to secure a new trial. For McCue's parents, George and Cecile of Lowell, the hearing provides the first glimmer that their son's "nightmare" may eventually end. "This is the first positive thing that has happened to give us hope. It's very important, though, that we don't get too excited. It's all in the hands of the judge now," said Cecile McCue, an inspector at Raytheon in Lowell in a recent interview. George McCue, a postal service letter carrier, told Foster's Daily Democrat three years ago: "I really believe someday he will get out of there. I believe in God and I believe in the system." Since his conviction, McCue's attorneys have launched numerous unsuccessful attempts for new trials, including an appeal to the state Supreme Court. "I've been in this business for 30 years," said Howe Sr., a former mayor of Lowell, "this kid did not do it. The evidence against him was en tirely circumstantial." Howe Jr. said the prosecution never produced a motive for the crime or an exact location of the murder. It appeared that the Rochester Police Department and State Police investigators focused on McCue, a stranger and outsider, and ignored evidence that would have produced the real killer, Howe Jr. said. But Assistant Attorney General Michael Ramsdell, one of the two state prosecutors, noted that the jury acted quickly to condemn McCue and that the defense has failed numerous times for new trial motions. "Certainly the evidence presented against Mr. McCue was substantial ... the jury wasn't out very long, say six or seven hours," he said, adding, "this is the third or fourth motion for a new trial and so far his attempts have been turned away." The following account of events comes from interviews with McCue's family, legal counsel and his own court testimony: McCue's ordeal began on a crisp early October day in 1987 when he stopped for cigarettes and beer at the Route 202 Quickie market and met clerk "Lulu" Courchesne. He was in town helping his cousin with some painting jobs, knew .1 ; ' mtii mi w miTfiUMini- - --mTftrTZ " X- ? II fi : . . - -J Spring Driving Can Be Slippery! When mother nature teases us with an occasional day of warm weather, we New Hampshirites look anxiously ahead to spring. But early spring driving presents its own special hazards with icy roads, pot holes, and frost heaves, plus unpredictable weather conditions. So, when you're on the road, drive defensively: Be alert. Recognize hazards. What is happening in front of you? What are the road and weather conditions? Prepare for defensive action. What can you do to avoid the hazard? Drive a well-maintained vehicle. And, always wear your safety belt Nixon, Hall & Hess is a law firm committed to helping people recover reasonable compensation for their injuries and losses caused by the carelessness of others. Well be glad to talk to you without charge. And if your cause is just, well work hard to get you what you deserve. But more importantly, we want you to take care, because we care. Nixon.HallHess Attorneys at Law 80 Merrimack Street, Manchester, NH 03101 1-800-343-1263, 669-8080 'Certainly the evidence was substantial ... the jury wasn't out very long . . . this is the third or fourth motion for a new trial and so far his attempts have been turned away.' MICHAEL RAMSDELL only a handful of people and was lonely. Though she was nine years his senior, McCue was drawn to Courchesne, a woman described as attractive and friendly. When he met her, McCue noticed she was wearing an engagement ring and would later learn that her fiance, Darren Hea-ley, was in prison. McCue met her at the store shortly before midnight on Friday, Oct 16, 1987, and they went out for drinks. The next evening McCue picked Courchesne up at her Academy Street apartment house and the couple went on the town, visiting several spots including the the local Moose Club before returning to McCue's cousin's apartment where they had sexual relations, drank and ingested cocaine. By his account, at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, McCue dropped Courchesne off in front of her apartment and left for his cousin's place. Prosecutors Ramsdell and Brian Tucker of the New Hampshire attorney general's office disputed that during the trial. They said McCue strangled and beat Courchesne to death and dumped her body near the Spaulding Turnpike behind a mall. The motive for the crime was never clear, Tucker told the jury, it was apparently a "senseless crime." Teen-agers riding motorcycles behind the mall near the turnpike discovered the body lying face down in a puddle later Sunday. Ramsdell and Tucker told the jury that McCue was the last person to see Courchesne alive. An official from the state crime laboratory testified that footprints found at the crime scene may have been McCue's and that tire track impressions recovered by investigators could have been from his cousin's truck. Plaster tire tracks Also prosecutors said antifreeze, allegedly from a leak in the truck, was found in plaster casts taken of one of the tire tracks at the crime scene. And prosecutors produced a witness who thought he saw a truck resembling that of McCue's cousin near the crime scene. McCue's lawyers called in Peter McDonald, former head of tire design for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio, to examine the plaster tire tread casts and measurements taken by investigators. McDonald, a nationally known specialist on tire tread identification, testified that. McCue's vehicle was "New Hampshire College gave me the education and confidence I needed to be successful." Jeanne Marcarelli - Graduate now i management. 'Ifuougo to the big colleges, you 'renumber 3100. Here, it's Joe.' Joe Feest - Undergraduate t 1 0. For a quality four-year iJL w college education, choose New Hampshire College. With 1 O. personal attention and 25 majors -L in Business, Liberal Arts, Hospitality, Sportspg t Management and International ' O O OT Business, you'll find all the resources L L '.' L H , to prepare you for success in the real world. 3 wun nexiDie payment pians, , . t ;; ;y ., rj. rii f ; TO H1-Omanyfinancialaidpackages,and f1 tki n l.i rmHkl t - Jill til k. . :-l ui-l.: tin. . i mi.. Mh. -n iwm. New Hampshire College is affordable, too. iv in 1 ryWV T T A TV yTrPT Tinr DfO Your future success is within reach right iNhWnAMronlKE w C w now. To learn more, call toll-free today. V COLLEGE 2500 North River Road Manchester, NH 03106 not at the scene. The wheelbase measurements of the 1977 Ford pickup truck driven by McCue were 11 feet 5 inches, McDonald testified. State Police data indicated that a vehicle with a 9-foot-6-inch wheelbase was at the crime scene, McDonald testified. The specialist also said that according to the Michigan State Police, 135 types of vehicle have a 9-foot-6-inch wheelbase, and none of them are 1977 Ford pickup trucks. Howe Sr. said that McDonald also found that the tire treads found at the scene were of a studded tire with "a chip missing.'' The tires on McCue's trucks were not studded and had no missing chip, he said. " Howe Sr. disputed the state's contention that antifreeze from McCue's truck was found at the scene. The chemical residue in one of the plaster casts was probably from the process of making the tread cast he said. And during the trial, the Howes tried unsuccessfully to implicate others in Courchesne's killing. At the defense's request one of Courchesne's daughters, Christine, testified that she saw a man who looked like Russell Healey, the brother of Courchesne's fiance, in the apartment on the morning of the murder. Healey, who has since died of leukemia and muscular dystrophy, denied he was in the woman's apartment that morning. Differences over blood The defense also asserted that spattered blood found on the wall of the apartment building's hallway could have been Courchesne's. But forensic specialists could not obtain enough of the blood to determine if it was, Howe Sr. said. "They never found dirt from Richard's boots that matched the crime scene ... or proved that those footprints were his. They never proved his truck was at the scene. The case was built on circumstantial evidence, period," Howe Sr. said. At a court hearing before Judge Temple in early March, Howe requested the jury be called back for questioning. The defense had been contacted by a juror that "a terrible mistake" had been made, Howe Sr. said. After interviewing four of the jurors, the defense found that a juror had been dissatisfied with McDonald's findings that the truck McCue was driving was not at the crime scene behind the mall. The juror conducted his own wheelbase test which corroborated the prosecution's witness from the state crime laboratory and discussed them with the jury, Howe Jr. said. "We infer that after McDonald testified he" the juror"attempted to confirm or deny the testimony of McDonald," Howe Jr. said. The juror convinced the other members of the jury to dismiss the defense witness' testimony, Howe Jr. said. Mum on Juror question Ramsdell declined to discuss the allegation that a juror acted improperly. "As far as the juror question," Ramsdell said, "until we hear from the jury on what effect this all had, there's not much I can say about it." On Tuesday, the defense will also present the testimony of a woman who lived in the bottom floor apart-. ment, and who allegedly heard Cour-chesne enter the building and McCue's pickup truck drive away, Howe Sr. said. The woman is also prepared to testify that she heard thumping, as if something was being dragged up-" stairs, Howe Sr. said. Howe Sr. said he hopes the jury recall and the admission of the new testimony will produce a new trial for his client. "He was in the wrong place at the right time and he has paid dearly for it," Howe Sr. said. McCue's mother said her son is "certainly no angel" but said his past scrapes with the law were for public drinking and motor vehicle violations, not for violent crimes. He is innocent, she asserted. "See, Ricky could never lie to me. We have a bond, it's just something a mother knows," she said. Meanwhile, McCue prepares for his hearing and possible chance for a new trial without public comment, letting his poem speak for itself: have been gone much too long It is time to go home where I belong. For my family and friends, I wish them peace. Which will be obtained upon my . release. It is in that instant when I regain, t My freedom from this torment and pain.

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