FROM OUR PRINTED MARCH, 2022 EDITION:
by Lonnie Brennan
Elizabeth J. Hebert is 93 years of age. We spoke with her on multiple occasions these past few months. During those conversations, she related how her son, David, had been wrongfully accused, arrested, and then convicted of a heinous crime. She has had no luck in getting anyone to listen to her pleas. She would like to go to God, knowing that she has done all she can to correct a wrong.
We continued the dialogue with her son, first with a phone call from his incarceration at the state prison in Shirley, Mass., then via a 37-page handwritten letter he produced, chronicling the process of how his life was taken away from him.
Putting aside that letter for now (we’ll share more in an upcoming edition), let’s take a quick look at what we found in the court documents.
David Daniel Coutu was tried and convicted of rape and was sentenced to “not exceeding 40 years or less than 35 years.” He will have served nearly 16 years as you read this, convicted of raping a woman in her apartment.
Now a few of the strange aspects of the case:
According to court documents, the crime was committed by a man of slight build with brown hair and a deep receding hairline. David’s hair was black at the time (now graying), and according to the police photo taken the following morning, he had no signs of a receding hairline. He also reports at six feet in height and of medium/large build at the time of arrest.
Access to the woman’s apartment was made via a hole punched through sheetrock walls. She awoke to the sound of someone ransacking her apartment. She stated she was warned not to look at him. She said she looked at him five times, carefully, and that she is a very detailed person, and noticed many details, including that he had brown hair, a deep receding hairline, and included various descriptions of his smaller body size.
The hole in the wall was small. David is a fairly big guy with a big frame. The photos as presented in the court appear to show distorted views of the small hole. An attempt at appeal of those photos show that David simply could not fit through such a hole.
But the case gets even more perplexing: How could David get convicted? He doesn’t have brown hair. He doesn’t have a receding hairline. He’s apparently too big to fit through the hole in the wall?
Next comes the photo-array: The victim was presented with a photo-array of nine different people of interest by Massachusetts State Police Trooper Bruce O’Rourke. She was presented with the array twice. The first time, she stated “Definitely not” when shown David’s picture. The second time, she stated “Definitely not this one.”
In his narrative accompanying the photo identification, Trooper O’Rourke wrote that after the second viewing, the victim stated, “I really deeply feel that it was none of those people.” The officer then wrote “she then commented on the third photo which she believed it was more the cocky attitude of the person in the photo which led her to choose him [as “possibly”] and not his features.” David’s photo “Definitely not this one” was photo number six.
So, no brown hair, no receding hairline, a six-foot frame, not able to fit through a small hole punched through sheetrock, and not identified in the photos. So, how did he get convicted?
Well, that’s where things get strange.
First, the physical evidence collected by the police included two things: a tool which did not have David’s DNA on it, and a pair of his blue jeans with four pieces of sheetrock, apparently equal-sized, stuffed into the back pocket of the jeans. (The victim said the attacker was not wearing blue jeans. This apparently was not shared in court.) The tool and jeans were found in David’s easily accessible basement.
There’s a long story about David moving into an apartment, having some things there, some in storage with his mother, some with his problematic sister. There’s the story about a neighbor, a registered Level 3 sex offender who fits the description of the rapist to a tee, and there’s the story of a cauldron of neighbors, family members, fakers, liars, and drugs. All very messy, all in need of us detailing in subsequent editions.
What we’ve seen so far is that the pants were apparently David’s and did contain his DNA on them, as well as the victim’s blood, and that apparently other DNA was available on one or more items, but was not revealed in court, nor linked to anyone. David claims that a clump of brown hair the victim tugged from the rapist’s head was never presented to the court, and that no DNA testing was performed on it.
So, one more time: David does not have brown hair, does not have a receding hairline, would not fit through the hole in the wall, was “definitely not” the attacker according to the victim’s review of nine photos, and the attacker did not wear blue jeans.
David said he was set up. Evidence planted against him. Yes, some notes about a drug-addicted family member, some hatred, and some related problems.
But what got David behind bars? Was it the diminution of the hole size vs. body size? The discarding of the photo identification in which the victim said it was definitely not him? Was it the failure to process other DNA found on David’s knife and blue jeans? The failure to investigate and allow the testimony of others, including a relative whose testimony would have directly countered statements presented at trial?
It could have been some combination of the above, but the straw that broke the camel’s back most likely came a year after the crime, where the victim was presented with David Daniel Coutu in a closed courtroom. In that meeting, she identified David not by sight, not by sound, not by height, not by smell, not by voice, not by any physical identification. Instead, she proffered: “Okay. Yes, that is the person. I can recognize his energy because of my trade of work.”
Ms. Chiu, the victim, identified David by his “spiritual energy.” Her work, she explained, involves communicating with the dead. She provides divine guidance from angels, spirit guides, and “masters like Jesus and Buddha.” She “connects with deceased loved ones with Heaven” so “they can hear and they come through to the living ones.”
The jurors were told that Ms. Chiu identified David as the rapist. And that she got a good look at her attacker, at least five times, and that there was DNA evidence linking him to the crime (the pants), and yes, that Ms. Chiu is a medium.
If you were presented with such evidence, in such a manner, how would you have voted on the jury? And, upon revelation of just a few of the notes exchanged inside and outside the courtroom, how would you feel about your vote today?
We’ll be printing more details and court documents regarding this case in upcoming editions. If you or a friend or a loved one has a case you would like our Broadside Special Investigations Team to look into, please contact Lonnie@BostonBroadside.com or call 833-800-NEWS. We will get back to you. ♦