One wonders how a jury, given a case with such lack of evidence, could bring in a conviction in less than three hours. Surely the jury must have had reasonable doubt, but it seems as though they didn't. Here is how Michael O’Laughlin was wrongfully convicted.
No eyewitness: There was no eyewitness that pointed the finger at Michael. The lead detective on the case testified before the grand jury that he believes the beatings on the hands of Annemarie Kotowski (victim) may have been defensive in that she was trying to protect herself. Is it possible she actually saw the perpetrator?
There are three possibilities concerning the victim’s recall:
- She truly doesn't know who did this.
- She has repressed this horrible event from her conscious memory and therefore honestly can't recall it.
- Could she know who did this but has chosen not to speak out at this time?
Bottom line: There was no eyewitness that identified Michael O’Laughlin as the person committing this crime. Quite the contrary. In an early interview, from her hospital bed, the victim was asked if Michael O’Laughlin committed this crime. She shook her head NO. Yet this was never brought up at the trial.
No physical evidence: There was no physical evidence that connected Michael O’Laughlin to this crime. There was a large quantity of blood found on the victim and in her apartment as a result of the beating. Yet NOT one speck of blood, DNA, fiber, hair, fingerprints, footprints was found that linked Michael to the crime.
Michael’s bat was identified by the police as the weapon used to beat the victim. Yet there was NO physical evidence that proved Michael’s bat was the weapon used in the beating. There were three small spots on the bat. Two of the spots tested were not human blood, the third spot tested positive for human blood but was contaminated by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory. A fourth, tiny (nanogram) DNA spot on the handle of the bat was tested and proved inconclusive. Yet the bat was allowed in as evidence as being the weapon used in the crime. Any one of these tests would have proven Michael’s innocence.
Bottom line: There was NO physical evidence linking Michael O’Laughlin or his bat to this crime.
No Motive: The Commonwealth claimed Michael’s motive for beating the victim was he needed money to purchase drugs. Yet sitting in plain sight:
- Thousands of dollars worth of expensive jewelry on top of the victim's dresser
- $522.00 in the top drawer of her dresser
- $20.00+ in her pocketbook
Yet absolutely NOTHING was stolen or reported missing. In addition Michael had, in his apartment, $250.00 in cash the police admitted was his money. He also had a check from his church for $72.00.
Because the robbery motive was looking weak the police used another motive to try and prove Michael was the perpetrator of this crime. The police stated that because the victim snubbed Michael he had motive to harm her. A couple of weeks before the crime Michael said hi to the victim. In passing the victim said hi and kept on walking. Because she didn’t stop and talk with Michael the police said Michael felt snubbed and had motive to harm her. However, another person, very closely connected to the victim, had a much stronger motive for committing this crime yet the police quickly eliminated him as a suspect.
Michael had no history of violence or abuse towards women. Multiple women stated in their police interviews that Michael was very kind and considerate to women and not capable of committing a crime like this.
Bottom line: The police had no motive for Michael O’Laughlin committing this crime.
The Crime: The beating inflicted on the victim is not one typically committed by a burglar. Someone intent on committing a robbery typically knocks the victim unconscious, steals money, jewelry, etc. and leaves the crime scene.
Does this beating fit the pattern of rage, passion, and jealousy? Could someone have been taking out their hatred and frustration on the victim for the hurt she caused them?
Bottom line: This appears to be a crime of passion, rage and jealousy not armed robbery. This would eliminate Michael O’Laughlin and could point more to a jealous spouse or suitor.
Wrongfully Convicted: With no eyewitness, no physical evidence, no motive, and a pattern inconsistent with the police's definition of a motive, how did Michael O’Laughlin get convicted, especially in less then three hours?
The prosecution did an excellent job of portraying Michael as a crazed drug addict. They brought in many unsavory characters from the drug world associating them with Michael. The prosecution portrayed Michael as a “crackhead” in need of a fix. Someone who would go to any length to feed his addiction, including a brutal assault and robbery to obtain the money necessary to purchase his drugs.
With that portrayal, a police crime lab that conveniently destroyed DNA tests and contaminated blood evidence, an unskilled and ineffective defense lawyer, a prosecutor who knowingly introduced false testimony and exhibited false evidence to the jury, a pro-prosecution judge who denied defense motions and withheld the defense from introducing evidence that was seized at the scene of the crime, the jury was able to find Michael O’Laughlin guilty in less than three hours.
This case was based on perception NOT facts. The average person has a perception of a drug addict. Most often it is not a pretty picture. Right or wrong people have their own perception. In most instances, this perception is that a drug addict is capable of doing ANYTHING to obtain their fix and feed their habit. Michael O’Laughlin was convicted on perception not facts. It’s sad, it’s even unjust, and it happens more often then the public is aware of.
In the affluent community of the Berkshires this was a very high profile case. The District Attorney needed a conviction. Michael O’Laughlin was the perfect scapegoat.
Bottom line: To free Michael O’Laughlin the facts have to be truthfully presented and the perception eliminated at his appeal and retrial. Facts will find Michael O’Laughlin innocent. Perception will find Michael O’Laughlin guilty.