EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 4, 2013

Judge blames police for 'travesty' in case of student left disfigured

BEVERLY — A victim got no justice yesterday. A judge said so.

Judge Robert Brennan pointed to several reasons for that, including, he suggested, a “code of silence” among Endicott College athletes who attended the same party where the victim, a 22-year-old Northeastern University student, was left disfigured.

But Brennan said another portion of blame falls at the feet of the Beverly Police Department, for its “utter lack of follow-up” in December 2011, when the victim, during an off-campus party attended by many Endicott College lacrosse players, was slashed across the face.

The wound was deep enough to reveal his lower jaw and teeth in photos and to leave a dark red scar that curves across one side of his face, starting next to his mouth and up toward his cheek.

That, the judge said, is a travesty.

“It is to me another travesty that (the victim) walks out of court feeling there was no justice in this case,” Brennan said.

“It would be equally as much a travesty to convict Mr. (Brendan) Eppley of a felony,” the judge said, based on the somewhat-equivocal evidence he heard during a two-day, jury-waived trial in Salem District Court.

A proper investigation by police “could have produced some physical evidence or statements,” said Brennan, that might have bolstered the case against Eppley. Instead, Brennan said he was forced to find Eppley, 22, of Darien, Conn., not guilty of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

The case has already led to the demotion of a high-ranking state police lieutenant, Kenneth Martin, who was removed from his position as commander of the state’s crime scene services last week as a result of his work for Eppley’s defense team.

Yesterday, it raised questions about the performance of Beverly police at what started out as a routine call for a loud party but turned into a felony investigation.

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