Associated Press

Judge allows wrongly arrested man to sue state

BOSTON --A judge has cleared the way for a Walpole man to sue the state for his wrongful arrest nearly six years ago in the murder of an elderly Foxboro woman.

Investigators had DNA evidence that showed Edmund F. Burke did not kill Irene Kennedy, yet arrested him anyway and held him for 41 days, according to Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball's ruling.

Charges against Burke eventually were dropped.

Burke is suing the state for wrongful arrest, and Ball's decision is in response to the state's effort to have the lawsuit dismissed.

"On the morning of the day of the plaintiff's arrest, the Massachusetts State Police knew that the plaintiff was not the person who murdered Irene Kennedy," Ball wrote in her ruling released last week.

Kennedy, 75, was found stabbed to death on Dec. 1, 1998, after she and her husband briefly separated during one of their regular morning strolls in a Walpole park.

The facts "could be considered an effort by the officers to subvert the integrity of the warrant process by selling the magistrate shoddy goods," Ball wrote.

The decision was good news for Burke, 52, who blames his incarceration for the death of his elderly mother.

"All of the stuff they came up with to arrest me has proven to be lies or false representations to the court," Burke told the Boston Herald.

At the time of his arrest, Burke was the sole caretaker of his elderly and ill mother, Annette.

While he was behind bars, police ransacked his house and the fire department declared it a hazard and had the power shut off, Burke said. The plumbing and heating systems failed and forced Annette Burke, 88, to move into a motel.

"It was like a death sentence to her, yanking her from her surroundings and seeing her son framed for a horrific murder," Burke said.

"If what happened to me was bad, what happened to her was worse. This travesty killed her," he said.

Annette Burke died on Jan. 20, 1999, just days after her son was released from jail.

A spokesperson for the state attorney general's office, which represents the state in the civil case, said the office could not comment on a pending matter.

Burke was related to Kennedy through marriage, and he said investigators claimed he was angry because he was not invited to the Kennedy family Thanksgiving dinner.

A convicted murderer already serving a life sentence was charged earlier this year with Kennedy's death.

Prosecutors said the DNA of Martin G. Guy, 42, matched genetic material found on Kennedy's body. Her throat, head and stomach had been slashed, and her body was marked by deep bite marks.

Police/Prosecutor Misconduct
Truth in Justice