The second trial for the three men convicted of the 1976 killing of Andrew P. Puopolo '77 began yesterday in the Suffolk Country Superior Court.
Assistant district Attorney Thomas J. Mundy Jr. yesterday charged the three defendants, Richard S. Allen, Leon Easterling and Edward Soares, with first degree murder in the Puopolo death. Mundy also charged Easterling with assault and battery with a deadly weapon for the knifing of Thomas Lincoln '77, another Harvard football player.
Puopolo died on Dec. 17, 1976 of stab wounds sustained in Boston's Combat Zone 31 days earlier. He and several other members of the Harvard football team went to the Zone to celebrate the end of the football season.
Judge James P. McGuire briefly explained the indictments to approximately 300 prospective jurors, saying the charges were "not evidence of guilt." The court will choose 12 jurors and four alternates from this group.
McGuire asked the prospective jurors a series of "general questions" designed to eliminate those who have an interest in the case and those who have already formed an opinion on the defendants' guilt or innocence. He excused 56 people who said they had formed an opinion.
Specific questioning of individual candidates for the jury begins today.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted the three defendants a new trial on March 8, 1979 because the prosecution had violated the Commonwealth constitution by using its privilege of pre-emptory challenge to prevent jurors from serving solely on the basis of race. Mundy eliminated 13 black jurors in the original trial.
Attorneys may reject up to 16 potential jurors by preemptory challenge without justifying the dismissals.
Henry F. Owens III, Allen's lawyer, said yesterday before the jury selection began, "I hope it will go differently this time." Joyce W. Poulin, Owens' assistant, refused to comment on the preliminary proceedings late yesterday afternoon.
Owens and Soares' lawyer, Andrew Good, unsuccessfully attempted to have their clients tried individually before today's proceedings. McGuire denied the motions on Monday.