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Robert Aldrich, Jr.

Other Massachusetts Exonerations
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On June 5, 2003, police in Brookline, Massachusetts arrested 41-year-old Robert Aldrich Jr. on a charge of auto theft. Officers said Aldrich fit the description of a man seen fleeing from a stolen car that they heard on a radio broadcast.

Shortly before he went to trial in Norfolk County Superior Court, Aldrich, who represented himself without a lawyer, asked the trial judge to order the prosecution to produce transcripts of the radio broadcasts from that night. The judge granted Aldrich’s request, but refused to delay the trial when the prosecution requested a continuance to transcribe them.

When the trial began in July 2005, the state had still not transcribed or turned over the tapes. The officer who arrested Aldrich told the jury that he heard over the police radio the description of a man who had been seen running from a stolen car. The officer said he saw Aldrich hiding under some bushes and that he fit the description—a black man wearing blue pants and a blue jacket.

No physical or forensic evidence connected Aldrich to the stolen vehicle. On July 28, 2005, the jury convicted Aldrich of larceny of a vehicle. He was sentenced to five to 7½ years in prison.

Months later, the transcripts of the radio transmissions were finally completed and the prosecution immediately turned the materials over to Aldrich. The transcripts showed that no such description was broadcast over the radio, contradicting the police testimony at trial.

Aldrich filed a motion for a new trial and on August 30, 2006, the motion was granted and a new trial was ordered. On September 28, 2006, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

Aldrich later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Brookline police department. That lawsuit claimed that he was walking hurriedly from a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway station because it was raining when police pulled up. One officer tackled and handcuffed him and several other officers then arrived.

The lawsuit said that when Aldrich asked why he was being arrested, one of the officers replied, “BBB” and then the officers “all started laughing.” The lawsuit said Aldrich later learned BBB stood for “Being Black in Brookline.”

Ultimately, the lawsuit was dismissed. However, Aldrich also filed suit seeking compensation from the state of Massachusetts, which was settled for $60,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/31/2016
State:Massachusetts
County:Norfolk
Most Serious Crime:Theft
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2003
Convicted:2005
Exonerated:2006
Sentence:5 to 7 1/2 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:41
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No