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Myles Connor, Jr.

On the night of February 21, 1975, two 18-year-old women, Susan Webster and Karen Spinney, were stabbed to death in Quincy, Massachusetts. Their bodies were buried and were not discovered until more than two years later.
 
On June 26, 1980, a Norfolk County grand jury indicted Thomas Sperrazza and Myles Connor Jr. on charges of murder and kidnapping. The prosecution’s case against Connor, a notorious art thief and rock musician who had served time in prison for assault, relied almost solely on the testimony of Sperrazza, who had been convicted of murder and kidnapping. John Stokes, another man present at the crime, was not prosecuted; Sperrazza killed him in prison.
 
At the 1981 trial, Sperrazza testified that he and Stokes picked up Webster and Spinney and drove to a bar in Roslindale, Massachusetts. Webster and Sperrazza went into the bar while Stokes and Spinney remained in the car. While in the bar, Sperrazza quarreled with Anthony DeVingo. When Sperrazza and Webster left the bar, DeVingo followed and Sperrazza shot him. DeVingo was wounded and Ralph Cirvinale, who was behind DeVingo, was killed by shots intended for DeVingo.
 
Sperrazza testified that while they were at the apartment in Quincy with Webster and Spinney, Connor arrived and decided that Spinney and Webster had to be killed because they had seen the shooting of Cirvinale and DeVingo. Sperrazza told the jury that Connor instructed him to kill Spinney by shoving a screwdriver into her temple.
 
The medical examiner testified that the wound in Spinney’s skull was consistent with a screwdriver being forced into her temple.
 
Diane Wazen testified that she called the apartment in Quincy sometime after midnight and Connor answered the telephone. While the defense was allowed to question Wazen about her past convictions and benefits she received under the Federal Witness Protection Program, the trial judge refused to allow the defense to question Wazen about criminal charges that were pending against her.
 
In 1981, the jury convicted Connor of murder and kidnapping and he was sentenced to life in prison.
 
In 1984, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial. The court held that the judge had erroneously barred the defense from cross-examining Wazen about her pending criminal charges.
 
The court also concluded that the prosecution—apparently inadvertently—had failed to disclose to Connor’s defense attorneys a prosecution memorandum stating that Sperrazza had initially told investigators that Connor told him to kill Spinney by driving the screwdriver into her temple and that he twisted the screwdriver until she was dead.
 
The report was significant because, during his testimony, Sperrazza had testified that although Connor told him to twist the screwdriver, he had not done so. That trial testimony was consistent with the medical examiner’s report that there was no sign of rotation.
 
The court said that the memorandum revealed “a substantial discrepancy, undisclosed to the defendant, between Sperrazza’s trial testimony (which was consistent with the medical evidence) and his pretrial statement (which was not).”
 
The memorandum was exculpatory “in the context of Sperrazza’s testimony that he did not recall having told anyone that he had twisted the screwdriver, the court said. “The memorandum should have been produced to the defendant at that time,” the court said. “Moreover, the prosecutor had a duty to correct the false impression created by Sperrazza’s testimony…Sperrazza’s answer was evasive; there was a substantial possibility that he was prevaricating.”
 
Connor went to trial a second time in 1985, and again Sperrazza and Wazen testified against him. For the first time, Connor testified and said that at the time of the crime, he was performing at a nightclub, playing with members of the Sha Na Na rock band. The owner of the nightclub, as well as another witness, also testified that Connor was performing that night.
 
On March 3, 1985, the jury acquitted Connor. He was not present, however, having fled the day before while the jury was deliberating. Ultimately, he was captured, pled guilty to jumping bond and was sentenced to a year in prison.
 
Over subsequent years, he was imprisoned for art theft, armed robberies, and drug dealing. In 2010, a book describing his exploits—nefarious and otherwise—was released: “The Art of the Heist: Confessions of a Master Thief.”
 
– Maurice Possley
State:MA
County:Norfolk
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1975
Convicted:1981
Exonerated:1985
Sentence:Life
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:32
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct