Judge rules charge stands; 1994 shooting death case.
WORCESTER - A judge has denied a motion to dismiss a murder indictment against one of three men charged in what authorities have said was the 1994 shooting death of Kevin Harkins.
Elias Samia, 46, of 78 Arlington St., and two co-defendants, Matteo Trotto and John R. Fredette, were indicted last year on murder charges in the Feb. 15, 1994, disappearance of the 36-year-old Mr. Harkins, whose body has never been found.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Harkins, who was officially declared dead in 2008 in Worcester Probate and Family Court, was fatally shot days after reneging on a promise to provide false testimony in a Worcester Superior Court drug case against Mr. Fredette in exchange for cocaine.
Mr. Samia's lawyer, Joan M. Fund, filed a motion in February in Worcester Superior Court asking that the murder charge against her client be thrown out. Ms. Fund alleged that dismissal was warranted because the evidence presented to the grand jury was insufficient to sustain the indictment, the integrity of the grand jury was impaired by the presentation of unfair, misleading, false and inflammatory evidence and prosecutors withheld evidence that would have undermined the credibility of certain prosecution witnesses.
In his written opposition to the motion, Assistant District Attorney Daniel J. Bennett said the evidence offered to the grand jury was "more than sufficient" to support the murder charge against Mr. Samia and denied that any evidence was improperly presented or withheld from the grand jurors' consideration.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker denied the motion in an 18-page ruling issued April 17.
"In the instant case, the grand jury was presented with reasonably trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a prudent person in believing that Samia, either alone or with others, knowingly participated in the murder of Harkins with deliberate premeditation and malice aforethought," Judge Kenton-Walker found.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Harkins was shot in the back of the head while in Mr. Samia's car with Mr. Samia, Mr. Trotto and Mr. Fredette, who was a foster brother of Mr. Trotto, after having been called out of Suney's Pub on Chandler Street by Mr. Trotto. Later, after Mr. Trotto had been dropped off, Millbury police stopped the vehicle, which Mr. Samia was driving, and saw blood in it and on Mr. Fredette, the front-seat passenger, according to prosecutors.
Mr. Fredette explained the blood to police by saying he had been in a bar fight. Police did not believe they had probable cause to make an arrest and allowed the two men to leave.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Samia disposed of the car and canceled its registration the next day and that auto parts consistent with the 1985 Chevrolet Impala were later recovered from a Worcester pond.
"A theme throughout the defendant's lengthy memorandum is that prosecutors purposely created an atmosphere of hatred or malice toward the defendant in order to procure an indictment. The defendant points to evidence of bad acts throughout the grand jury proceeding as evidence of this malice," Judge Kenton-Walker wrote in her decision.
"However, upon review of the minutes, it is apparent that evidence of unrelated bad acts was only presented when necessary to establish the relationships between certain witnesses. The evidence is that the victim, as well as the co-defendants, were involved in cocaine.
"Any evidence of bad acts or weapon possession was related to allegations in the case, and was not presented to obtain a conviction based on hatred," the judge wrote.
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NOTE: 1994 INCIDENT