District Attorney’s Office Reacts to Judge Sarmina Commuting Edward Bracey’s Death Sentence


January 14, 2013: “I would first like to express in person to the Boyle family how disappointed I am with this ruling,” stated District Attorney Seth Williams.  “My heart goes out to the entire family.  Officer Danny Boyle was a true hero.  I have known the Boyle family since 1992 when Edward Bracey was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for Danny’s senseless murder.   This ruling is perplexing, and I can only imagine how devastating it is for the Boyle family.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the Boyle family today as they digest this decision.”

Judge Teresa M. Sarmina ruled on Friday, January 10, 2013 that  “Edward Bracey established that his intellectual functioning is ‘limited’ or ‘subaverage’,” and therefore can not be put to death because of the 2002 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia making it illegal to execute anyone who is deemed as mentally retarded.

“Three weeks from today, it will be 23 years since Officer Danny Boyle was murdered by Edward Bracey on February 4, 1991,” said First Assistant Edward McCann.  “Ironically, the trial of Edward Bracey started almost a year to the day of Officer Boyle’s murder, and the jury’s death sentence was handed down on March 4, 1992.  In the nearly 22 years since that date, the defendant has attacked his sentence in a variety of ways.  None of these challenges deal with the strength of the evidence – the evidence of defendant’s guilt is undeniable.  No court has found that the trial was unfair, or that he was the victim of any misconduct by the prosecution or the police.”

 “In a prior post conviction hearing, the defendant alleged that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to present mental health mitigation evidence,” continued First Assistant McCann.  “At those proceedings, which were held in 1998, defendant presented three experts that all testified that he was not mentally retarded.  One testified that defendant’s IQ score was ‘five points higher than one would need to get to actually be classified as mentally retarded.’  A second flatly said ‘defendant is not mentally retarded.’  A third said that defendant’s IQ score was in the borderline range rather than the mentally retarded range, that he read at the tenth grade level (which was the point when he stopped attending school) and that during her testing he was able to read such words as eliminate, humiliate, bibliography, contemporary, triumph, contagious and predatory.  The judge in 1998 dismissed his first PCRA petition as meritless.”

 “Yet here we sit, in January of 2014, a full generation after the murder of Police Officer Danny Boyle (who was 21 at the time of his murder), and a court has ruled he is mentally retarded and not eligible to be executed.  We do not have the benefit of Judge Sarmina’s opinion, so I cannot say for certain what the basis is for her ruling.  However, I can say this for certain.  The victim’s family – who have done nothing but serve this city with strength and character, both before and after Danny’s death – have questions about a process that can lead to a result like this, and I for one have no answers.  Because I have the same question about how a jury’s verdict, having been ratified by multiple layers of review, can be undone 22 years after it was rendered on a claim that is frankly inconsistent with the evidence this same defendant produced in 1998.” 





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