Now He’s Suing the Cops Who Framed Him.
Frederick Weichel was one of the nation’s longest, wrongfully imprisoned people
BOSTON, MA – After more than 36 years in prison for a crime he didn’t do, today Frederick Weichel sued the Town of Braintree, MA, Boston and Massachusetts State police who “deliberately and intentionally framed [him] for a crime of which he was totally innocent.” Among other gross misconduct, police allegedly fabricated false evidence, and hid extensive exonerating evidence from both prosecutors and Weichel’s defense attorney.
Despite offers of leniency, Weichel refused to plead guilty to a lesser crime and steadfastly maintained his innocence over his 36+ years of wrongful incarceration. No physical evidence tied him to the 1980 murder of Robert LaMonica in Braintree and multiple witnesses confirmed that Weichel was with them in Boston at the time of the murder.
The murder weapon was recovered a half mile from the crime, but through either gross incompetence or malevolence, police never tested it for finger prints. It later “went missing” from police custody, preventing testing for potentially exonerating evidence.
Police claimed that confidential informants first pointed the finger at Weichel, but never produced reports detailing how that alleged information was produced. Four teenagers who briefly witnessed a person running away from the nighttime crime scene were too far away to give positive witness identifications, but police perjured themselves by falsely claiming that the youths identified Weichel.
A composite picture of the alleged offender, produced by police in cooperation with the youths, pointed to someone besides Weichel. Eleven people identified the composite picture as matching a convicted murderer who had failed to return from furlough, but police suppressed their report documenting those identifications. The report was literally hidden in the basement of the Braintree Police Department for more than three decades.
Under coaching from the police and in exchange for leniency in sentencing, one of the youths, who said he had consumed 4-5 beers the night of the murder, became the sole witness against Weichel. The fact that the youth had cut the deal with police was not revealed to prosecutors and Weichel’s defense attorney.
Between 1980 and 2009, Weichel and his attorneys made several requests to the Braintree Police Department for police records they suspected had been suppressed. It was only in response to a June 2010 request that Braintree Police finally began to reveal the suppressed evidence, eventually prompting a judge in April 2017 to grant Weichel a new trial and allow his release on bail. Then-attorney Michael D. Ricciuti of K&L Gates, now a Superior Court Judge, led the pro bono legal battle for Weichel’s exoneration, assisted by the New England Innocence Project.
At the time of his 1980 arrest, Weichel was a 28-year-old graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Psychology. During his decades of wrongful incarceration in maximum security prisons, he was physically assaulted numerous times, suffering several painful injuries, including a broken jaw.
“After 36-1/2 years of being wrongfully imprisoned, I still feel like I am returning to my cell every day,” said Weichel. “I am trying my best to make up for those years by living every moment as if it were my last. This lawsuit will give me an opportunity to try to rebuild my life.”
Weichel is represented by Debra Loevy of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the today’s suit, Frederick Weichel v. Town of Braintree, Braintree Police Chief John Vincent Polio, Braintree Police Officers James Leahy, Estate of Robert Wilson, Estate of Theodore Buker and unknown Braintree police officers, estates of Boston Police Officers Edward Walsh and Walter Derby, City of Boston, Massachusetts, and State Police Officers John R. Sprague and Edward Whelan, No. 1:20-cv-11456-IT, is available here.