Edwin Alemany, accused of slaying Amy Lord, has ‘significant history’ of mental illness, lawyer says

Edwin J. Alemany’s defense lawyer said today that the 28-year-old has a “significant history of psychiatric hospitalizations” but that it is premature to say whether he will use an insanity defense for Alemany, who faces murder and assault charges.

Alemany, who is being evaluated by the state at Bridgewater State Hospital for competency to help with his defense, is due in court Aug. 14 to face charges that he stabbed and strangled Amy Lord and attacked two other women in a 24-hour period in South Boston late last month.

Defense lawyer Jeffrey A. Denner said he has had preliminary meetings with Alemany and his family and intends to thoroughly review his psychiatric history.

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But Alemany has not yet been formally charged, been found competent to stand trial, or been presented with the evidence against him, Denner said.

“We do not have any defense in mind. We are mindful at this point of the fact that the court thinks he has psychiatric issues, we are mindful of the fact that he has a psychiatric history, we are mindful of the fact that crimes have occurred here,” Denner said.

The defense team would only begin “thinking seriously about whether there’s a ‘state of mind’ defense,” or insanity defense, if Alemany is found competent to stand trial and after his lawyers have reviewed the evidence against him, Denner said.

Alemany previously faced charges of assaulting two women in South Boston in late July but was considered only a “person of interest” in Lord’s killing until authorities ran DNA tests that they said linked Alemany to the crime, prompting Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley last week to authorize a warrant charging Alemany with Lord’s July 23 murder.

“There’s a lot of issues here that need to be explored. This is a horrible situation, obviously—women have been assaulted, someone is dead—but it is very important that we understand that the American system of justice requires that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Denner, a prominent Boston defense attorney.

Denner’s past clients include Christian Gerhartsreiter, who was convicted of killing a California man in 1985 and assumed the name Clark Rockefeller while living in Boston; former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who was charged with using state lottery advertising to promote his failed bid for governor in 2010; and the family of Milena Del Valle, a 38-year-old woman who died in 2006 when a concrete ceiling panel fell in a Big Dig tunnel in Boston.