Supreme Judicial Court Overturns Massachusetts Murder Conviction of West Springfield Widow

The Supreme Judicial Court has overturned Joann Sliech-Brodeur’s Massachusetts first-degree murder conviction. Sliech-Brodeur was convicted of killing her husband Joseph Brodeur, who was stabbed 34 times with a kitchen knife and may have sustained blunt force head trauma from a “pry bar” on July 28, 2004.

During Sliech-Brodeur’s criminal defense trial, the defense claimed that Sliech-Brodeur’s long-standing mental issues were made worse by Brodeur’s intentions to divorce her. A psychologist who testified on her behalf said that Sliech-Brodeur doesn’t remember stabbing her husband.

In February 2006, a jury rejected Sliech-Brodeur’s defense that she was not responsible for stabbing her husband because she was mentally ill. The then 61-year-old woman was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Now, however, the state’s highest court is saying that the discovery process that took place during the trial violated criminal procedure rules (including the state’s limitations on discovery in insanity cases) and prejudiced the West Springfield woman’s Massachusetts murder case. The court says that the psychiatric expert for the prosecution was given information he should not have obtained and that the defense should not have had to give prosecutors statements and notes she had made for her own psychiatric expert.

Finding that Sliech-Brodeur was “unconstitutionally forced to help the state convict her,” the court is ordering a new trial.

SJC overturns murder conviction for West Springfield woman,, July 19, 2010
Mass. court orders new trial in husband’s death, Boston Herald, July 19, 2010
Woman guilty of first-degree murder in husband’s death, Mass Live, February 24, 2006

Related Web Resources:
Murder, Cornell University Law School
General Laws of Massachusetts

Our Boston murder defense attorneys are dedicated to providing our clients with a solid defense to obtain the best outcome for your case. Massachusetts homicide is a serious crime with harsh consequences. A jury needs to know why you should be found guilty or, if your case is at a stage where you are being charged with murder, there may be evidence or other reasons why the charges should be reduced or dropped.

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