Friday, April 16, 2010

Ben LaGuer Seeks Parole After 26 Years

Ben LaGuer's story reads like a sequel of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". He begins his early adulthood as a typical well liked "good kid" who was never in any sort of trouble. LaGuer was a member of the drama club who quit school and joined the Army. After being honorably discharged he comes home to Leominster, MA from Germany shortly after his 20th birthday, and in the midst of making plans to attend college he finds himself the suspect of an horrific attack on his neighbor, Lennice Plante, age 59.What happens next is a series of events so strange that they defy belief.

It now seems evident that because LaGuer matched a physical description of the attacker given by the victim he was pulled in and the case was built around him. Detective Ronald N. Carignan must have been sure this was a slam dunk case, at least until the fingerprints came back as not a match. It would have been nice to have a better look at those prints, but they were lost and there existence was never actually shared with the defense council. Other items have "gone missing" or been mislabeled, like the shirt LaGuer is wearing in his mug shot and how it is now listed as evidence found at the scene. What is even more disturbing is pondering the motive Det. Carignan could have had to give false details on a warrant to search LaGuer's apartment and how items where taken that where not documented. Carignan also gave false details at the grand jury indictment hearing, some of which the victim herself contradicted.

Somewhere along the line someone in law enforcement must have realized what was going on here and decided it would be best to keep the public feeling safe by sticking to the idea that police had caught the culprit rather than allow fear to spread and have panic ensue. An all white all male jury was presented no physical evidence and only the sole testimony of a frail old victim who we now know was insane at the time she was on the witness stand; her medical records sealed prior to trial. One of the jurors reported that he heard another juror say "Look at the Spic, he's guilty just sitting there. Why should we even bother having a trial? LaGuer was convicted anyway, and instead of taking the plea bargain he was offered for two years if he confessed he got a life sentence.

After 15 years served LaGuer was denied parole because he refuses to admit to a crime he claims he did not commit. The same has happened after 20 years in spite of the fact that he has earned a degree from Boston University Magna Cum Laude as well as a PEN award. Now LaGuer has served 26 years on a very questionable conviction and has proven himself rehabilitated if one wanted to assume his guilt. Does it really serve our public good to continue to deny him freedom solely because he refuses to admit guilt to a crime he adamantly denies being guilty of?

I have a bit more insight since I have personally known Ben LaGuer since 2006 when I wrote an article questioning Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey's usage of LaGuer's case to besmirch Gov. Deval Patrick. He contacted me to thank me for writing about him and our interactions became common. The more time I invested into knowing who LaGuer was and the details of this case the more I came to my opinion that he is innocent. No guilty man keeps himself in jail when all he would have to do to be free is tell the truth. Only an innocent person would refuse to admit guilt even at the cost of their own freedom. We have examples of this right here in Massachusetts that are irrefutable; the Salem Witch Trials. Let's hope that both common sense and justice prevail on April 22, only days before his May 1st birthday. He has spent more than half his life in prison, 24 years longer than if he had plead out.

If you wish to share your opinions with the board the phone number is  (508) 650-4500.

UPDATED: From the website it has been made public that LaGuer may be seriously ill.

In other news Dr. Benjamin Smith of Lemuel Shattuck hospital
reported that an area of my liver has a lesion "highly worrisome
for hepatocellular carcinoma given the size of the lesion and in
light of the patient's history of elevated alpha-fetoprotein."
(2/3/10) I am concerned that if I am released from prison
needing treatments, I'll no longer enjoy the healthcare that the
prison currently affords me.

Also, here is a link to the information on the other more likely culprit as mentioned on this blog by a commentator. 


John Hosty-Grinnell said...

One final note I should share is my astonishment of how people can demonize someone, making them out to be a criminal mastermind, when in fact the person in question has never been in any sort of trouble what so ever. Read some of the other articles out there where people can leave comments and you'll see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

John, great article but you left out a couple of things that are important for readers to know. LaGuer had a look a like who lived in the same apartment building as he and the victim who was arrested for rape after he went to jail for this crime. The victim knew this man and even allowed him to sleep over sometimes when his mother kicked him out. This man also admitted to a bartender of being guilty of the crime against Lennice Plante while drinking at a local bar.

Are you going to be there during the parole board hearing?

bigtuna said...

What of the woman? Why no article on her plight?

I think you should have included, the fact that his DNA is
In the Rape Kit put this case to rest. He's a sick brutal menace to society who has had ample chance to prove his case. Why anyone would waste their intellectual energies on this pile of garbage astonishes me. Even most of the radicals who defended this creep, have moved away from this guy except total lost causes like Noam Chomsky.

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

BigTuna, thanks for giving us your opinions. It seems you are approaching this more out of emotion than looking at the facts.

First off, everyone is entitled to defense, no matter how guilty they are, this is an extremely important aspect of our justice system. It doesn't matter who it is, we need to scrutinize all evidence so as not to imprison the innocent.

On reviewing the facts in the LaGuer case there are so many glaring inconsistencies that I genuinely wonder how he was ever found guilty, especially considering the only piece of evidence was the poor victim, who has been proven now to have needed medication for delusions.

If that were the only piece of evidence holding your son in jail would you still be so sure of his guilt? What is it that makes you think he's guilty?

No one denies how tragic this attack was for the victim, even the public, but what if the perpetrator was free to attack another woman? Try reading the report from the admitting psychiatrist and let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

DNA testing in considered evidence not 'emotions'. laguer's DNA matched that of the rape kit. period. claiming he is an innocent victim of some evil conspiracy solely aimed at black men is what's 'emotional' not to mention irrational and does not constitute 'fact' in a court of law.

short of a video of the brutal rape in question DNA proves beyond a reasonable doubt that this man committed this crime. go save and defend someone who really is innocent- i'm sure they're out there. b. laguer is not one of them.

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

Did you bother to read the reports on the DNA evidence? The most prominent experts out there have concluded that the results should not be interpreted as a match because the results are more consistent with contamination, not rape. There were no DNA matches from the rape kit, I don't know where you got that from. Even the SJC has put it in writing that LaGuer stands convicted with no physical evidence.

The trace DNA could be a result of when the evidence collected sat in the trunk of the lead detective for over a week before it was turned over to the State Police Crime Lab. The underwear and such that was collected from LaGuer's apartment was in with these items, hence the trace amount of his DNA being found.

Read up on this subject if you want to have a discussion on this and I will be waiting to hear what you think.