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Lawyers attack credibility of witness

Shawn Drumgold at US District Court in Boston. Shawn Drumgold at US District Court in Boston. (JOSH REYNOLDS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Email|Print| Text size + By Jonathan Saltzman
Globe Staff / March 7, 2008

Lawyers defending two retired Boston police detectives whose alleged manipulation of evidence led to the wrongful conviction of Shawn Drumgold yesterday attacked the credibility of a key prosecution witness who has recanted his testimony from Drumgold's 1989 murder trial.

Under pointed questioning by lawyers for retired detectives Timothy Callahan and Richard Walsh, the prosecution witness, Ricky Evans, acknowledged that he had failed to disclose his criminal record on job applications and used aliases to avoid being arrested on outstanding charges.

"I didn't want to go to jail," Evans, 38, a former nursing home cook, said in US District Court in Boston.

Evans - who said he made up his testimony against Drumgold in exchange for cash, food, a hotel room and help from police in clearing up some outstanding arrest warrants - also acknowledged that he appeared in Roxbury District Court in June 1989 to take the first step to clear up some default warrants.

On Wednesday, his first day on the stand in Drumgold's lawsuit accusing the police of violating his civil rights, Evans left the impression that Boston detectives somehow wiped out the arrest warrants by themselves.

But Evans insisted that he told the truth at a Suffolk Superior Court hearing in 2003 when he recanted testimony about seeing Drumgold with a gun moments before and after the shooting of 12-year-old Darlene Tiffany Moore. His testimony at that hearing helped prompt a state judge to overturn Drumgold's murder conviction in the 1988 death of Moore, who was struck on a Roxbury street corner by stray bullets fired by two men wearing Halloween masks.

Under cross-examination by Mary Jo Harris, Callahan's city-hired lawyer, Evans said he was homeless when Callahan allegedly arranged for him to stay free at a Howard Johnson's hotel in Dorchester for eight months before the Drumgold trial. He said Callahan let him invite friends and family for free meals and gave him spending money.

"After I started telling [Callahan] about Tiffany Moore, I started getting what I wanted," Evans said. "It was a big deal to me. . . . I told them what they wanted to hear."

In truth, Evans said, he had no firsthand knowledge about the killing of Moore. When he testified at the murder trial that he ran into Drumgold near the crime scene with a gun, he said, he simply repeated what he had gleaned from Callahan and another detective as they lunched with him at the Howard Johnson's.

Harris said in her opening statement Wednesday that Evans is a liar. Questions posed by her and Walsh's city-hired lawyer, Hugh R. Curran, seemed intended to convince the jury that Evans has no credibility.

She read part of a paragraph from a May 4, 2003, article in The Boston Globe in which Evans was quoted as saying of his testimony at the murder trial, "There was no coercion. What I said was the way it happened."

Evans denied making the comment yesterday.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com.

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