Letter to the Editor – February 12

On February 12, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

SJC’s ruling is devastating to our family


(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)


My beloved aunt, Janet Downing, was murdered by juvenile Edward O’Brien in 1995 [in Somerville].

Her defensive wounds were plentiful. He was 6 foot 4 and 260 pounds. My aunt was 5 foot 3 and 114 pounds. She never had a chance, but she fought so hard to keep her life.

I try to block the noise from the hearings and trial from my mind because the emotions evoked are completely unbearable. I return to my safe place when these thoughts occur – he’s behind bars for life without exception. No one else will suffer from his brutality. I never thought these facts would change. I was wrong.

The recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court allows my aunt’s murderer the chance for parole. My family will be forced to sit in a room with him, and the full realization of the fact that he could leave prison will hit. If the parole board decides he stays in jail, we’ll have to attend parole board hearings every few years and feel all of this, every time.

Did the SJC even consider this?  It seems their concerns were 100 percent focused on the murderers and their rights. I struggle to make sense of this. Given there are 60-plus other juvenile murderers in state now eligible for parole, maybe your family member was a victim too.

Jennifer Burke


2 Responses to “Letter to the Editor – February 12”

  1. A.Moore says:

    It’s the whole system. You read about it each and every day. From this case to the nut getting a sex change. What about the victims? Personally I believe that once one is convicted they lose their rights, end of discussion. With room left in case of wrongful conviction. At least that. In this case the key should be lost forever as well as many other cases. I don’t know how the people who run the systems can sleep at night. And we are supposed to be civilized. In my world their would not be a parole hearing unless the victims family got together on their own and asked for one.

  2. ritepride says:

    Any chance that this kid is a relative of former Police Chief O’Brien? I once worked at a state hospital that Gov Weld gave a bldg on the property to a private vendor operating a state juvenile detention facility for these darling juveniles. It included a juvenile who killed a mother and child among others.

    We had to place a Campus Police Officer outside their secure building with one of the private vendor’s personnel so the little darling could fly a remote controlled plane and additionally had a cruiser close by in case the little darling bolted. This assignment was wrong, was an insult to the family of the victims. I found a way to end it. It was an interference in the daily operations of the Campus Police and safety to visitors. I demanded that if this was taking place it should not draw away from the regular daily operations…thus the vendor would have to pay for a paid detail for 2 officers. The remote controlled plane was trashed…end of story.

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