On March 17, 1996, a 16-year-old youth was assaulted by a group of young men and severely beaten during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, Massachusetts.
After the beating, police asked the victim, Jonathan Corbin, of South Boston, to look at a series of photographs. He selected the photo of 21-year-old Eric Shaughnessy as one of his attackers. At the time, Shaughnessy was known to police because he had been charged in an assault in 1993 and he had been shot in the back while allegedly attempting to break up a fight.
Shaughnessy, who had a previous arrest for assault in 1993, was arrested and charged with assault and battery with his feet. He contended he was at home at the time of the attack.
On April 8, 1997, Shaughnessy was convicted by a jury that deliberated 15 minutes in West Roxbury District Court after Corbin identified him as one of the more than a dozen youths who beat him. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
After the news media reported his conviction and sentence, residents of the South Boston neighborhood who knew the true identities of Corbin’s attackers reached out to Shaughnessy’s attorney, Michael Galvin.
Galvin and Shaughnessy’s mother, Dorothy Steele, spent several months trying to find witnesses and ultimately located seven teenagers who said they saw the beating and that Shaughnessy wasn’t there.
The seven youths testified at a hearing before District Court Judge Peter Anderson, who had sentenced Shaughnessy. All seven testified that Shaughnessy was not involved. One of the youths admitted that he himself was involved in the beating.
In October 1997, Anderson granted a motion for a new trial based on the testimony and ordered Shaughnessy released on bond.
On January 28, 1998, the Suffolk County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charges.
– Maurice Possley