On Tuesday, September 23, 2008 Alex Scesny was arraigned in the Worcester Superior Court for the 1996 murder of a Fitchburg prostitute. Just prior to this arraignment, Scesny, a 39 year old construction worker was tried for charges of rape, assault with intent to murder, assault and battery and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. It was alleged that in March 2007 at a West Boylston motel Scesny raped a woman and tried to suffocate her with a pillow. The woman testified Tuesday that he raped and tried to suffocate her last year at Reservoir Motor Lodge in West Boylston where they’d been smoking crack cocaine and had had consensual sex. He was acquitted of all charges except the assault and battery charge. Scesny was sentenced to 18 months in the house of correction. He is being credited with the time he served while awaiting trial. Scesny was represented by Attorney Michael Hussey, a well-respected Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer who has handled many high profile cases in Massachusetts. Hussey pointed-out inconsistencies in the story Scensy’s accuser in the rape trial told and that she never had an exam for sexual assault. The prosecutor played Scesny’s tape recorded interview where he said “I did not rape anybody. I never have raped anybody and never will rape anybody”.
As to the new case, the prosecution alleged that Scesny’s DNA profile was found on samples taken from the victim’s body. The victim, Theresa Stone was a prostitute who fought a drug addiction. Her body was found in 1996 along Kinsman Road in Fitchburg, partially clad and strangled. Scesny became a person of interest in Stone’s death in May of this year. Police are also investigating similarities among this case and the murders of several other prostitutes with ties to the Worcester area, many of whose bodies were dumped alongside roads or near wooded areas. Scesny was ordered held without bail. Read entire article, Boston Globe, September 24, 2008 by Milton Valencia.
On May 7, 2008 wbz.com reported that according to the Brockton Enterprise, investigators were trying to figure out if Scesny was in the New Bedford area in 1988 – the same year 11 drug-addicted women were reported missing. Police were then creating a timeline to figure out Scensny’s whereabouts at that time.
Unfortunately for the defendant in this case there has been a tremendous amount of pre-trial publicity. Both the right to a fair trial and the right of the press to publish information about criminal activity are guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a fair trial and the First Amendment gives the press their right to publicize the act or event. These two important rights sometimes create conflict. The result of any action can be an infringement on one of the party’s rights. Typically the right to freedom of the press prevails and issues relating to excessive pre-trial publicity are dealt with by the trial judge. For example, at trial the defendant should not have to exhaust available peremptory challenges to prospective jurors who have been affected by excessive pre-trial publicity. Also, judges have the discretion to transfer cases to another county. Judges may question prospective jurors individually to see if they have been prejudiced by any pre-trial publicity.
Our office has defended people whose cases have been subjected to substantial pre-trial publicity. For the most part media coverage of cases decreases with the age of the case. Criminal cases that make headlines on television or in print quickly become a thing of the past. Very few cases are subject to constant scrutiny. Moreover, pre-trial publicity is not necessarily detrimental to your case. O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson and Michael Landis were all subject to excessive pre-trial publicity before their cases went to trial. All three were acquitted.
Scesny will most likely get a fair trial. If he is lucky enough to be defended by Michael Hussey again you can be assured that will be the case. It will be interesting to see if Scesny is charged with additional killings. If so, it will be particularly interesting to see if the cases are joined or if each is tried separately.