FALL RIVER — The sister of Karen Marsden is breathing a little easier after learning convicted “cult murderer” Carl Drew will not be getting a new trial.
Wendy Alves said Monday she was “happy, of course” to learn Superior Court Judge John Connor had denied Drew’s request for a retrial.
“Today I got the phone call, and from there it was all happiness,” Alves said. “What a relief it is.”
Alves had been waiting anxiously for Connor to release his decision after evidentiary hearings were held in October and November. At the heart of the hearings was the question of whether witnesses were coerced into testifying that Drew was guilty of the 1980 murder of Marsden, a city prostitute.
In pre-hearing filings, three women claimed in sworn affidavits that former Bristol County District Attorney prosecutors Ronald Pina and David Waxler threatened them and their families in an effort to assure Drew’s conviction.
The testimony of the three women, Maureen “Sunny” Sparda, Carol Fletcher and Robin Marie Murphy, was heard in addition to testimony of past and present police officers, city officials, state legislators, judges, prosecutors and family members of Drew’s recanting witnesses.
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Murphy, who was also convicted of the Marsden killing, was offered a second-degree murder plea bargain in exchange for testimony against Drew.
The plea made it possible for Murphy to be released from prison this past spring. She has conceded her testimony was fabricated and claims she was never present at any of the three slayings to which Drew was linked.
Alves said the latest testimony offered by Murphy made awaiting the outcome of the trial a bit unsettling.
“With what happened with Robin, I thought about the worst all the time,” Alves said.
Awaiting Connor’s decision, which was due anytime after the first of January, also added to the anxiety of the outcome.
Now with the decision handed down, Alves said she will wait to learn if Drew and his attorney Michael Cutler will be able to appeal the case, obviously hoping that is not an option.
“I don’t want to go through another trial,” Alves said.