Sunday, March 4, 2007

Misplacing Blame?

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (Wikipedia)
This past week in Boston has seen an unusual turn of events in an old case of a man convicted of murdering a police officer back in 1991. First, though, some back story.

A man by the name of Alfred Trenkler built a bomb and placed it under the car of a friend's father, with the help of said friend, in order to cash in on dad's life insurance policy. The target of the bomb heard something hit the ground beneath his floorboards as he was pulling out of his driveway, saw the bomb and called the police.

While examining the device, it exploded and killed bomb squad member Jeremiah J. Hurley, Jr. and injured his partner Francis Foley. Trenkler and his friend were convicted two years later, but here's the catch: the judge presiding in Trenkler's case, Rya Zobel, threw the jury out of the trial upon conviction and sentenced him to two concurrent life terms himself. This was illegal at the time of the decision and should not have occurred. Federal law stated that a jury had to make the decision of life in prison, not a single judge.

So Trenkler wrote a letter in 2005 to the judge who had illegally sentenced him to life in prison, pointed out the error, and the judge called her own actions a "miscarriage of justice". So she attempted to make up for the blunder by ordering Trenkler re-sentenced.

The U.S. Attorney's office was told two separate times of the motion and Judge Zobel's decision to call for a new sentence and did nothing about it. So now on April 4 Trenkler will be re-sentenced and Michael J. Sullivan of the U.S. Attorney's office is trying to get a stay on the order so that he can argue against it.

Now it is obvious that Zobel screwed up big time, she even admits it, and is trying to fix it. Sullivan's team really dropped the ball on this one and I don't think that they really deserve a chance to re-argue the case. But the best part of this story comes with Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis' remarks concerning all that is happening. While Thomas Nee, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association president, pointed the frustration that arises from this incident towards those responsible (the judge and the U.S. Attorney's office), Davis blamed Trenkler, claiming that this was all a ploy to re-victimize the families of the dead officer and the injured officer.

First of all, Trenkler did not mean to victimize the families of these two police officers in the first place, so why would he want to re-victimize them? Second of all, Trenkler is following the legal system's guidelines for appeals and had the mistake not been made by Judge Zobel in the first place and had Sullivan's office paid attention to their mail, maybe things would be a lot different. Because so much time has passed, the chance of Trenkler getting life again is slim, but had the jury who had convicted him had a chance to sentence him, they would have been more likely to give him life.


  1. There is another critically important aspect of the Trenkler case, which is that he is "perfectly innocent" of any involvement in the 1991 bomb. See his website at Alfred Trenkler didn't know Tom Shay's father, and there was no life insurance policy. There WAS a dubious lawsuit which the father had filed.
    Alfred Trenkler did not need the money and hadn't seen Tom Shay (the son of the apparent intended victim of the bomb) in two months before the 28 October 1991 explosion.
    There was NO physical evidence linking Alfred Trenkler to the bomb, despite extensive searches and chemical tests for dynamite residue. There WAS, however, a jailhouse snitch who used his testimony to halve his prison sentence. Also, Alfred detonated a military wargame noisemaker, an M21 Artillery Simulator in 1986 as a prank, and it caused no harm to person or property.
    If anyone has any questions about this case please to go the website or contact me.
    Morrison Bonpasse
    morrison attt alfredtrenklerinnocent dottt org

  2. UPDATE: On 4 April 2007, Alfred Trenkler was resentenced to 37 years (beginning from the time of his original 1993 sentencing.) One good result of that resentencing has been his reclassification to a lower security risk which led to his transfer to the Federal Prison in Devens, Mass. Being closer to home, an hour from his parents and an hour from the Boston Federal Courthouse, Alfred is now more able to wage his Campaign for Justice.
    For more information about his case, see www.alfredtrenklerinnocent and/or read the manuscript for the 700 page book, PERFECTLY INNOCENT, at the "Books tab at

  3. FURTHER UPDATE as of 17 June 2009.
    Alfred Trenkler remains in prison, but is confident of his future
    Five of his jurors have read the book, "Perfectly Innocent" about his case, and have written to Judge Rya Zobel to disavow their verdict and to request a retrial. Judge Zobel was not swayed by the letters, but a growing number of people in Massachusetts are concerned that two men were
    wrongfully convicted in the Roslindale Bomb cases.
    Soon, Alfred Trenkler will be asking the new U.S. Attorney, Carmen Ortiz, to conduct a preliminary re-investigation of the case, or to stand aside
    while the Boston Police Dept. conducts such a re-investigation.
    For further updates, see