Reversing a Decision


The same witnesses testified; the same spectators cried. But this time a jury of 12 Suffolk County residents found the three men charged with the 1976 stabbing death of Andrew P. Puopolo '77 innocent of first degree murder.

Two of those men, Edward J. Soares and Richard S. Allen are now free. Leon J. Easterling, who twice testified that he stabbed Puopolo and Thomas J. Lincoln '77 during an early morning Combat Zone brawl, is awaiting an appeal of his conviction for manslaughter.

Another jury had convicted all three defendants for murdering Puopolo, one of a group of Harvard football players who visited the Zone for a traditional end-of-season celebration.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted them a retrial last year when it found that the prosecution in the first trial had systematically eliminated Blacks from the jury. Easterling, Soares and Allen are Black.

Throughout the retrial, Thomas J. Mundy Jr., Suffolk County assistant district attorney, argued that the three defendants attacked the Harvard students as part of a plan to help prostitutes rob pedestrians. Defense attorneys insisted that their clients acted independently and without premeditation in defending each other and several women who were involved in the fight.

The scuffle ended when Easterling stabbed Puopolo in an alley off Boylston Street. Puopolo died a month later, on December 17, 1976, in Tufts-New England Medical Center.