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Raymond Martorano

Other Pennsylvania Cases with Perjury or False Accusation
On December 16, 1980, 60-year-old John McCullough, head of the Philadelphia Roofers Union, was fatally shot on the front steps of his home in the Bustleton neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1981, Willard Moran, a reputed organized crime hitman, was charged with the murder. Police said he came to McCullough’s home carrying poinsettias and posing as a deliveryman.

In 1982, Moran was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. He immediately reached a deal with prosecutors in which, in return for resentencing to life in prison, he implicated 40-year-old Albert Daidone and Daidone’s brother-in-law, 55-year-old Raymond Martorano, for ordering the killing.

Prosecutors said that Daidone, who was a high-ranking official in the Atlantic City Bartenders Union Local 54, and Martorano, a reputed member of organized crime in Philadelphia, ordered the killing because McCullough was attempting to organize a rival bartenders union to lure away members of Local 54. Both were charged with capital murder in 1982. At the time, Martorano was in federal prison serving a 10-year prison sentence for running a methamphetamine distribution operation.

Daidone and Martorano went to trial in May 1984 in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. A mistrial was declared during jury selection when the prosecutor, Barbara Christie, repeatedly referred to witnesses she claimed she intended to call but who were in fact dead. The defense accused Christie of mentioning the names because they were well-known organized crime figures and she was attempting to influence the jury pool against Martorano and Daidone.

When a jury was finally selected and the trial was underway, the only direct evidence against Martorano and Daidone was the testimony of Moran, who said he committed the murder on their orders. The remainder of the trial was devoted to the prosecution’s attempt to link Daidone and Martorano to Moran. The defense lawyers argued that Moran killed McCullough because Moran’s father did not want to pay a debt he owed to McCullough.

On July 31, 1984, Daidone and Martorano were convicted of capital murder. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the death penalty and both were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 1992, the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial. The appeals court found that the trial prosecutor, Barbara Christie, had committed many serious acts of prosecutorial misconduct during the trial, including repeatedly attempting to tell the jury that Daidone might have been the source of a fingerprint that had been found on the van used by Moran on the day of the murder. In fact, the police technicians had refused to attribute the print to Daidone.

In 1993, federal agents raided a home in Philadelphia as part of a drug investigation. They found and seized a letter dated July 5, 1993 and signed by a convicted murderer named Louis Giambi. The letter was written to a convicted drug dealer, Thomas Washart, whose home was the target of the raid.

In the letter, Giambi said that in 1981—before Moran was arrested for the McCullough murder—he and Moran were plotting a jewelry store heist when Moran told him “he killed McCullough for his father. There was nothing he would not do for his father. [Martorano’s and Daidone’s] names were never mentioned until he was given the death sentence.” Although the federal investigation was unrelated to the prosecution of Daidone and Martorano, federal prosecutors were aware of the significance of the letter. They turned it over to Philadelphia prosecutors who in turn disclosed it to lawyers for Daidone and Martorano.

Lawyers for Daidone and Martorano filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that the prosecutorial misconduct in their trial was so grave that a retrial would violate Daidone’s and Martorano’s constitutional privilege to not be tried repeatedly for the same crime. The motion was denied in the trial court, but in 1996, the Superior Court reversed and ordered the case dismissed.

The prosecution appealed the Superior Court decision and in November 1999, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the dismissal. Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote that Christie, the prosecutor, “acted in bad faith throughout this trial, consistently making reference to evidence that the trial court had ruled inadmissible, continually defying the trial court’s rulings on objections, and, in a tactic that can only be described as Machiavellian, repeatedly insisting that there was fingerprint evidence linking [Martorano and Daidone] to the crime when the prosecutor knew for a fact that no such evidence existed.”

The court said that Christie had “ignored the bounds of legitimate advocacy” in an attempt to “win a conviction by any means necessary.”

Daidone and Martorano were released from prison in November 1999. On December 27, 1999, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a prosecution motion to rehear the case.

In January 2002, Martorano was fatally shot while driving his car in Philadelphia.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/17/2014
State:Pennsylvania
County:Philadelphia
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1980
Convicted:1984
Exonerated:1999
Sentence:Life without parole
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:53
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No