Murder Case Venue Changed
By Marla A. Goldberg firstname.lastname@example.org
July 21, 2006
Springfield - The murder case of Frankie A. Roche, 33, who is accused of shooting a reputed organized crime figure, Adolfo M. Bruno, 57, in 2003 in Springfield, has been assigned to a judge sitting in Worcester.
Chief Justice of the Superior Courts Barbara J. Rouse assigned Judge Francis R. Fecteau on July 3 to preside at Roche's trial and all prior proceedings, according to court documents.
Fecteau normally sits in Worcester County Superior Court, and on July 6, Regional Administrative Justice Constance M. Sweeney ordered Roche's case transferred there, an order to remain in force unless amended by Rouse or Fecteau.
Hampden County Assistant District Attorney Carmen W. Picknally could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Bruno, of Agawam, was shot at least four times on Nov. 23, 2003, according to police, as he was exiting his car outside the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society, where he often played cards.
One of Roche's defense lawyers, Joseph A. Franco, asked for a single judge to be assigned to the case in June, and argued that it would be more efficient, because numerous motions will probably be filed, and evidentiary hearings required.
Fecteau, 59, was appointed to the bench in January 1996 and was a partner in the Worcester law firm of Healy, Desimone, Rocheleau and Horton. A Boston College Law School graduate, Fecteau was an assistant district attorney in Worcester in the 1970s.
In 2002, Fecteau, a parishoner in the Worcester Catholic Diocese, drew ire from victims of sexual abuse by clergy, when he released a priest charged with child rape on personal recognizance, according to Worcester Telegram & Gazette archives.
In October 2003, the priest, the Rev. Robert E. Kelley, was sentenced to state prison, and Fecteau withdrew from a civil case against him.
Last month, Fecteau, who was specially assigned to a Berkshire County case, granted a new trial to Bernard F. Baran Jr., 41, who began serving life in prison in 1985 after being found guilty of sexually assaulting children at a Pittsfield day-care center. Baran's lawyers argued that he was convicted on unreliable evidence, but Assistant District Attorney David F. Capeless has said he will appeal Fecteau's ruling.
Roche's trial is set for March 20, and Picknally has said it could take weeks or months, because of the case's complexity and several law enforcement agencies involved.
Roche, formerly of Ware, Springfield and Westfield, was shot in the back in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 19, 2004, by an FBI agent, while being arrested as a fugitive from justice. The agency later ruled the shooting accidental.
Roche has pleaded innocent to assault and battery and other charges in connection with a beating and the wrecking of a Locust Street bar on Nov. 10, 2003. Picknally has said there is evidence common to that case and Bruno's murder less than two weeks later.
In June, Roche agreed to waive his right to trial within a year of arraignment, after prosecution and defense lawyers told the court more time is needed to review thousands of pages of evidence. Bruno, who left a wife and five sons, was a reputed regional officer for the Genovese crime family.
In 1987, he admitted involvement in a racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to five years in federal prison. About nine years later, Bruno was sentenced to 15 months, as was the late Francesco "Skyball" Scibelli, then 84, for interstate travel in aid of a racketeering venture.
A pre-trial hearing in Roche's case is set for Feb. 28.
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