BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A man convicted in the 1993 shooting death of a Boston police detective will get a new trial, the state’s highest court ruled Friday.
Sean Ellis, 41, was released on $50,000 bail in June 2015, a month after Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball ruled Ellis was entitled to a new trial in the murder of Detective John Mulligan.
Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley’s office later challenged the judge’s decision before the Supreme Judicial Court in May.
The SJC upheld Ball’s ruling Friday, saying, “the motion judge did not abuse her discretion in ruling that the newly discovered evidence warrants a new trial.”
Mulligan was shot five times in the face while he slept in his car while on a security detail in September 1993.
Ellis was convicted of first-degree murder in 1995. He was serving a life sentence until he was set free on bail.
Ball said Ellis didn’t get a fair trial because two detectives who played key roles in the investigation later pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
She also said police and prosecutors didn’t provide Ellis’ original defense team with all the evidence he was entitled to, including federal and police reports suggesting others had reasons to kill Mulligan.
When told about the SJC ruling Friday morning, Ellis cried tears of joy, according to WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens.
Ellis is currently living in Lynn, working full-time. He will remain free on bail while waiting for his new trial.
Conley’s spokesman, Jake Wark, said prosecutors fully expect to re-try Ellis.
“Never once in more than 20 years has a single piece of reliable evidence undercut the compelling case against Mr. Ellis, and we intend to present that case to a jury once again,” Wark said in a statement.
“As the SJC noted, not one shred of information developed since Detective Mulligan’s murder has contradicted the strong evidence on which Ellis was convicted. The court found that certain documents may have provided his first attorney with an alternative trial strategy, but none of them suggested actual innocence and many are inadmissible as evidence.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports