The Last Detective - Nardizzi Inc.

Lowell settles wrongful imprisonment suit with Dennis Maher

Lowell settles wrongful imprisonment suit with Dennis Maher

BOSTON –Dennis Maher and his lawyers reached a $160,000 settlement with the city of Lowell for his wrongful conviction for the rape and sexual assault of two women in 1983. He was sentenced to life in prison, but Maher won his freedom in 2003 after DNA tests cleared his name. Maher spent more than 19 years in prison.

The town of Ayer continues a legal battle to dismiss a civil rights case filed by Maher over his wrongful imprisonment. Maher accused Lowell and Ayer police of using improper identification techniques, failing to disclose evidence, failing to investigate, and fabricating evidence.

John Nardizzi has led the investigation into the events surrounding the flawed investigation done in Ayer and Lowell. Another Nardizzi client, the Estate of Kenneth Waters, also has a pending case against Ayer. Kenneth Waters was wrongfully arrested and convicted, and served nineteen years of a life sentence, for the 1980 murder and armed robbery of Katharina Brow. Waters was released from prison following the filing of a nolle prosequi in which the District Attorney acknowledged that new DNA evidence had revealed the blood of an unknown person at the murder scene. The DA did not acknowledge Waters’ innocence.

Waters later died as the result of an accident.

$3.1 million settlement for client in Ayer wrongful conviction

Dennis Maher reached a $3.1 million settlement in his civil rights case against the town of Ayer. Maher was released from prison in April 2003 after having served 19 years of a life sentence for rape. He was exonerated when forensic tests revealed his genetic fingerprint did not match DNA evidence found at the scene of an alleged 1983 Ayer rape at the Caza Manor Hotel. Maher claimed his civil rights were violated due to the negligent management and training of Ayer Police Department investigators, including now-retired Officer Nancy Taylor-Harris.

Maher's civil case was based partly on evidence unearthed by private investigator John Nardizzi, who discovered that one of the alleged rape victims had faced criminal assault charges of her own during that era. These charges were dropped in exchange for her cooperation on the Maher case. Defense counsel was never told about the arrangement that Taylor and the Ayer Police had engineered with the victim/witness. The witness's criminal charge was transfered to another court and essentially disappeared from the public docket, only to be unearthed two decades later. The prosecutor who handled the Maher case later testified at his deposition: "Officer Taylor, in my opinion, engaged in misconduct by working some side arrangement with the victim not to prosecute her for a criminal case against the police department, and withheld that information from me."

Nardizzi also unearthed evidence that a key witness at trial, Richard Nichols, was well-known to Ayer Police and Nancy Taylor (who denied any memory of him in her deposition). Nichols was the son of a former police matron employed for decades at the Ayer Police Department. Moreover, Nichols had been arrested multiple times. Ayer Police were not able to produce any notes, reports, or statements from interviews with Nichols, despite the fact that a meeting between Nichols and Taylor was documented in a police log, and Nichols turned out to be the centerpiece of their case.

Client Est. of Kenneth Waters wrongful conviction case will go to trial

The civil rights case filed by client The Estate of Kenneth Waters will head to trial after a summary judgment motion file by defendants Town of Ayer, Nancy Taylor, et al. was rejected by the trial judge.

Kenneth Waters was wrongfully arrested and convicted. He served 18 years of a life sentence for the 1980 murder and armed robbery of Katharina Brow. Waters was released from prison after DNA evidence had revealed the blood of an unknown person at the murder scene.

Waters complaint alleged that the Ayer Police and Taylor's deliberate bad-faith suppression of favorable evidence led to his conviction – including suppression of evidence that Waters was not the source of the perpetrator’s bloody fingerprint on a piece of a toaster on the dining room floor; as well as suppression of Waters’ time card from work, which cemented his alibi. Taylor was also accused of used coercive and suggestive tactics to manufacture falsely incriminating statements from witnesses Brenda Marsh and Roseanna Perry.