By Gregory B. Hladky
5:00 PM EDT, October 8, 2013
A guilty verdict for a private eye in a witness-tampering case could well have a heavy impact not only for him but for the guy he was trying to free from prison.
Gerald O'Donnell was found guilty this week by a jury in Rockville Superior Court. He was accused of tampering with and bribing a key witness in a 1993 New Haven murder case.
O'Donnell is a former investigator for the New Haven State's Attorney's Office. The charges relate to his work as a private investigator on the murder conviction of two men in the killing of Eugenio Deleone Vega. O'Donnell was convinced both men were wrongly sent to prison.
George Gould and Ron Taylor were convicted of killing Vega largely on the testimony of one witness named Doreen Stiles. They have insisted they are innocent of the crime, and Stiles later recanted her testimony, claiming she was pressured by New Haven police into fingering Gould and Taylor.
State prosecutors claim O'Donnell bribed and influenced her to change her testimony. She denies it. Stiles has been called by at least one expert a "completely unreliable witness" on which to base a conviction.
This saga has resulted in multiple court hearings and retrials, a state Supreme Court ruling that overturned another judge's decision to free Gould and Taylor, and now the trial and conviction of O'Donnell.
Taylor has since died of cancer. Gould is still in prison, and is once again attempting an appeal.
O'Donnell's lawyer says his client also intends to appeal. But if the conviction stands, it could be a killing blow to Gould's hopes to win his freedom.
Stay tuned. At some point, this has got to be turned into a TV movie.
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