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Springfield man asks for new trial, claiming wrongful conviction for 1984 murder

Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in Springfield, Mass.
Elizabeth Román
Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in Springfield, Mass.

The New England Innocence Project is asking for a new trial for a Springfield man who claims he was wrongfully convicted almost 4 decades ago.

Edward Wright was a 22-year-old temp worker in 1984 when he was arrested — and later convicted — for killing his friend Penny Anderson.

Wright’s lawyers say new DNA evidence shows he didn’t do it. They say prosecutors withheld police reports and fanned racist bias against Wright, who is Black, as he was tried before a predominantly white jury.

Radha Natarajan heads the New England Innocence Project, which filed Wright’s petition for a new trial — his sixth appeal.

“We now have new evidence that's never been presented to a court,” Natarajan said Monday. “And so we are hopeful that this will be different.”

Edward Wright.
New England Innocence Project
Edward Wright.

Natarajan said investigators reviewing Wright’s case files determined that his original attorney spent almost no time looking into alternative suspects, despite the fact that other people had strong motives for the murder.

In a statement released by the New England Innocence Project, Wright said, “I’ve tried to preserve some semblance of my humanity — have tried to learn the law, to help fix the wrongs in prison to help not just myself but others. And I’ve never stopped trying to prove my innocence."

"But after so many denials," he said, "I am hopeful that a judge will finally look at all the evidence in my case — not just the horrific facts of the murder. I just want the truth to finally come out so a court can do the right thing and I can live out the rest of my life in freedom.”

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni can either agree to a new trial or Wright’s lawyers will present their argument to a judge.

“Several years ago and prior to today’s filing, the Hampden District Attorney’s Office assented to and conducted a forensic review, which did not reveal any new evidence questioning the integrity of this conviction," the office said in a statement. "The Hampden District Attorney’s Office’s Appeal Unit will review his most recent filing and present its case in court.”

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.

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