Mother awaits file on slaying

Craigslist casework is still unreleased

A photo of slaying victim Julissa Brisman. Philip Markoff was charged with her murder. A photo of slaying victim Julissa Brisman. Philip Markoff was charged with her murder. (Bill Greene/ Globe Staff/ File)
By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / February 28, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Six months after Philip Markoff killed himself, forcing authorities to drop charges against him, the mother of the woman he allegedly murdered is still waiting to see the evidence against him.

Carmen Guzman said she is frustrated that Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley has not released the case file on Markoff, the 24-year-old former Boston University medical student who was charged with killing Julissa Brisman in a Back Bay hotel in 2008.

Guzman, a 53-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic, said she fears her daughter’s killing is no longer a priority to the authorities who closed the case against Markoff in September, about one month after he was found dead at Nashua Street Jail, where he was awaiting trial.

Guzman and her lawyer said the file could provide information that would help them pursue civil complaints against the Copley Marriott Hotel, where Brisman was killed, and the New Hampshire gun shop that prosecutors said sold Markoff the weapon he used to kill the 25-year-old New York woman.

“It’s like it never happened, like there was never a case,’’ Guzman said in Spanish during a telephone interview. “Once he killed himself, they closed the case, but my daughter’s case must keep going because I want justice for my daughter . . . . He may be dead, but I’m still alive. I’m still suffering. She was my life, the light of my life.’’

Jake Wark, spokesman for Conley, said officials expect to release the case file “in the very near future’’ and will provide copies of the documents to Brisman’s family first.

“From the beginning, Julissa Brisman was and remains the heart of this case,’’ he said. “It’s on Julissa’s behalf that so many people worked and still work so hard on this case.’’

Wark said officials in Conley’s office have had to go through thousands of pages of documents and redact private information about hundreds of people who helped build the case, including home addresses, Social Security numbers, and home numbers.

And prosecutors have an obligation to focus on active murder cases, he said.

“We do have to prioritize cases and the preparation of cases that are going to trial weekly,’’ Wark said.

Wark added that the district attorney’s office returned Brisman’s belongings in the fall and provided some financial compensation for a trip her mother made to Boston to attend a memorial for her daughter.

Guzman’s lawyer, Djuna Perkins, said she has written Conley’s office three times since September, when authorities filed a brief in court saying that Markoff’s suicide made it impossible for them to bring the case to trial.

One of Perkins’s letters was an official request through the Freedom of Information Act to look at the file.

Perkins said that after prosecutors failed to respond to her first two missives, she sent a letter on Jan. 20 telling them she would file a complaint with the secretary of state if they did not send a response.

On Jan. 25, a prosecutor called and told her that officials were moving as quickly as they could to get the information out. Perkins said she had not heard from their office since.

Perkins said it was not the first time Conley’s office been unresponsive to requests from the family. For months after Brisman’s death, Perkins said, she repeatedly asked officials to turn over the keys to her apartment, which Brisman had on her when she was killed.

As they waited, Perkins said that Brisman’s roommate, who refused to let the family into the apartment, took Brisman’s journals and gave them to a New York newspaper.

Perkins said the keys were not released until she sent a letter stating she planned to file a motion in court demanding their return.

Wark disputed that account and said that prosecutors were prepared to send the keys to the family before the letter arrived. Wark said prosecutors wanted to wait until they knew they would not need access to Brisman’s apartment.

Conley has said repeatedly that the evidence against Markoff was overwhelming and has expressed confidence he would have been convicted if the case had gone to trial. That trial would have started next month.

Police said Markoff, who held two prostitutes at gunpoint during seven days of criminal acts, found Brisman after she posted an ad on Craigslist advertising erotic massages.

Markoff met Brisman at the Copley Marriott Hotel, where she was staying, and shot her after she fought him as he tried to rob her, according to police.

Guzman said she wants to know if the case file holds any evidence that would indicate whether security at the Marriott was faulty or if the New Hampshire gun seller, State Line Gun Shop, was negligent when it sold Markoff the weapon.

The US attorney’s office in New Hampshire decided not to charge the gun shop.

Lucy Slosser, a Marriott spokeswoman, declined to comment on the possible lawsuit.

“Our thoughts and prayers are still with the victim’s family and friends,’’ she said. “At Marriott, the safety and security of our guests is always a priority.’’

Brisman’s family was devastated when they learned they would not get the opportunity to watch Markoff face a trial, Perkins said. The case file could help Brisman’s relatives find some emotional release, she said.

“I think it’s part of the whole closure process,’’ Perkins said. “The family feels very strongly that they want some kind of justice for their daughter. They didn’t get a criminal prosecution, but maybe it’s possible there could be something civil and they have a right to find out.’’

Guzman said she plans to come to Boston on April 14, the two-year anniversary of Brisman’s death, to visit the Garden of Peace, a memorial near the Suffolk County Courthouse that honors the city’s homicide victims, ncluding her daughter. Brisman’s name is carved in a rock, with others that line a path meant to resemble a riverbed.

“When I wake up, the first thought I have is of Julissa and she’s who I think about when I go to sleep,’’ Guzman said. “My head still spins like it did when I first learned she died. I keep seeing her dying. I keep thinking her last word was ‘Mommy.’ ’’

Maria Cramer can be reached at