EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 27, 2013

Police paid shooting victim to testify

According to grand jury testimony David Rivera never testified about street killing

A Lawrence man shot to death outside a Methuen club last month was paid $1,000 by Lawrence police in exchange for testimony about a 2007 murder, according to Superior Court documents and the district attorney’s office.

But, David Rivera, 28, 246 Farnham St., Lawrence, never testified in the 2009 murder trial of Rudy Cruz, who was indicted in 2007 for shooting Daniel Bautista to death on the corner of Farnham and Phillips streets. A jury acquitted Cruz in Superior Court in October 2009.

Essex County Superior Court Judge Richard Welch III ruled that Rivera could not testify in the trial.

“He was excluded from testifying by the judge because we were not given notice that he was given these rewards, promises and inducements for his testimony,” said Ronald Ranta, Cruz’s defense attorney during the trial.

Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, this week said prosecutors did not know of the payment until the trial.

“The understanding I have is, it was a Lawrence police officer who made that arrangement,” Kimball Monahan said. “It was not disclosed to us. By the time is was, (Rivera’s) testimony had been put in.”

The district attorney’s office conducted a criminal inquiry into the payment, she said, and “we found no criminal wrongdoing. We referred it back to Lawrence police for their own internal disciplinary process.”

Kimball Monahan would not identify the Lawrence police officer or officers who made the payment because no criminal charges were filed.

Interim Police Chief James Fitzpatrick, who was appointed in September, said he was unaware of any kind of payment and would look into the matter.

Capt. Denis Pierce, commander of the Lawrence detectives unit, referred questions about Rivera to Blodgett’s office, citing the ongoing investigation into Rivera’s murder.

The Eagle-Tribune has filed freedom of information requests with the district attorney’s office seeking any reports generated as a result of its inquiry and with the city of Lawrence for the police department’s internal affairs inquiry file on the matter.

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