“Justice”, as we have discussed, does not always come swiftly. Today, a long-term investigation into a motor vehicle crime has come to court.
The accident which left two people fatally injured on U.S. Route 1 in Saugus took place six years ago. According to the Commonwealth in Salem Superior Court today, the accident was of the hit-and-run variety. When it was all over, Tina Tello and Christopher Zullo, struck by a vehicle as they tried to cross the highway late on the night of January 5, 2007, were dead.
Three people have now pleaded “not guilty” in the case.
Thirty-three-year-old Michael Tranchita Jr. has been charged with leaving the scene of the fatal accident, conspiracy and misleading investigators. His father, fifty-five-year-old Michael Tranchita Sr., and thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Cutting of Revere stand charged with conspiracy and misleading investigators. Ms. Cutting is also charged with being an accessory after the fact. The Tranchitas are from Winchester.
All three defendants were released on personal recognizance after today’s arraignment
Tello’s son, Michael Cowels, said outside court Monday he’s glad justice was “finally being done.”
Attorney Sam’s Take On Seemingly Sleeping Investigations
I have handled many criminal matters in which investigators, after an immediate, almost urgent, initial inquiry into my clients’ connection to an alleged crime seem to simply disappear.
Days turn into weeks into months into years.
And then one day they come back. With a warrant.
The tendency, of course, when the investigators seemingly disappear is to assume that they have simply found that there is no case they can bring against my clients and so everyone on our side of the aisle breathes a sigh of relief.
I have long ago learned that, usually, when law enforcement simply “disappears”, they come back.
Until you receive verification that an investigation has ended…it is not over.
This is particularly true of federal investigations. However, as you can see in today’s story, it can happen on the state side as well.
“Why is that, Sam?”
There could be many reasons. Perhaps the authorities have moved on, temporarily, to another more urgent matter. After all, there are only so many resources to use at one time. Often, however, the hope on the part of law enforcement is that if it is seen to be backing off and looking elsewhere, people will make mistakes that make prosecution possible.
Sometimes, it simply takes a long time to gather whatever scientific evidence the prosecution needs to have a strong a prosecution as possible.
“Can the fact that they wait so long help the defense when the criminal charges eventually come?”
Yes. Sometimes, the government waits so long to bring the charges that the statute of limitations (the period of time within which charges must be brought lest there be an automatic bar to prosecution) runs and it is too late to bring such charges. Sometimes, during trial, the delay in prosecution can be used to demonstrate that the prosecution had a weak case to begin with.
As always, there are a variety of potential scenarios as to reasons for the delay as well as how to use that delay to favor the defense. However, as is usual, you are not going to be able to take advantage of the situation unless you are represented by experienced counsel.
In such cases, there is another reason it is advisable to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. That lawyer can keep an eye, as much as possible, on the investigation and keep an open communication with law enforcement so that you have some idea as to whether the investigation is closed. If the investigation does not close, and criminal charges result, you can often work it out so that your lawyer is notified of the charges so that a date can be set up for you to voluntarily come to court rather than have an arrest warrant issued in your name.
To read the original story upon this blog is based, please go to http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/02/3_arraigned_in_fatal_2007_saugus_hit_and_run