Looking Good For Louise
- Seven Supreme Court Judges hear Au-Pair's
- Prosecution stumble in Boston Hearing
- Status Quo, Retrial or Dismissal likely
Seven Supreme Court Judges hear Au-Pair's Appeal
Oral submissions in Louise Woodward's Appeal have taken place
in Boston's Supreme Court , Monday 9 March 1998. The seven appeal
judges, five men and two women, grilled appellate lawyers for
both the defence and Commonwealth (prosecution) in the one hour
Prosecution stumble in Boston Hearing
Early indications are that the prosecution failed to argue sufficient
grounds for a restitution of the Jury's second degree murder
verdict. They also failed to come up with persuasive or any reasons
for the appeal judges to increase Louise's sentence were they
to uphold the manslaughter conviction.
Sabita Singh accused trial Judge Zobel of "throwing out
the jury system/verdict", but this view was not well received
by the judges present who vigorously defended their right to
use discretion in such matters.
Manslaughter to stick, Retrial or Dismissal likely
From the questions asked by the Supreme Court Judges it seems
they are debating whether to order a retrial, uphold the manslaughter
conviction or order a dismissal (the latter two allowing Louise
to come home).
It is always difficult to pre-judge the judges. However, from
their defence of Judge Zobel's right to exercise his discretionary
powers and concern over the lack of notice given to the prosecution
re the skull fracture, it does seem things are looking good for
Louise. A retrial may require the exhumation of baby Eappen's
body for further examination, so this will have to be considered
The Court now has 4 months to make its ruling, although it
is believed this may come sooner rather than later.
Courthouse Chaos in Boston
- Transformer EXPLODES in basement
- Louise Appeal DELAYED until Monday9 March
Louise Woodward's final appeal hearing was been postponed
until Monday 9 March 1998 following the explosion of a transformer
in the basement of the Boston Courthouse.
Amid scenes of chaos bordering on farce Louise and her family,
the legal teams, judges and press were evacuated from the Massachusetts
court building. The au pair will now have to wait until at least
72 hours (and probably far longer) to discover her fate.
Louise: Final Appeal D-Day
"Let me go home"
Both the defence and prosecution are now set for the full
and final appeal hearing on Monday 9 March 1998. The Appeal
in front of seven judges at Massachusetts Supreme Court allows
both parties just 25 minutes to orally present their previously
submitted written arguments.
Louise Woodward herself has been living with one of her lawyers
in posh Marblehead, an affluent suburb of Boston. She has told
reporters for the UK Channel Four documentary Dispatches "I
am scared of going back to gaol".
Fearing the worst she said "The most I hope for, I
guess is that they will just leave it alone and let me go home".
Previous blood clot
The documentary casts further doubt about the validity of
her conviction. Leading UK neurosurgeon Professor John Pickard
from Cambridge's Addenbrooke Hospital says "it is pretty
incontrovertible...that it was a previous blood clot".
Dr David Fagan from Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham referring
to the initial US diagnosis says "I find it incredible
that an apparently competent neuropathologist should miss something
Woodward's lawyer Barry Scheck said "If Louise loses
this she could spend the rest of her life in gaol and since I
believe very much we have proven that this is an old injury and
that she couldn't have done what was she was accused of doing
I find that unimaginable, so it's pretty scary".
Louise: Appeal held back to Spring
Justice Abraham told Louise's lawyers and Commonwealth prosecutors
Wednesday 3 December 1997 that both of their appeals would be
heard together. She also ordered the transcripts from the original
trial to be made ready as soon as possible.
The Commonwealth's appeal is against Judge Zobel's decision
to reduce her conviction to manslaughter and her sentence to
time served. The Defence are fighting her conviction arguing
for it to be quashed.
Meanwhile Justice Abraham failed to
rule on Louise's travel restrictions. She is likely to have to
remain in Massachusetts until the full hearing in March.
Now the party is almost over...critics of Judge Zobel's "leniency"
have been emerging in the USA to condemn the release of Louise
Woodward. A poll for US television's ABC showed a clear majority
believed she had got off lightly.
On Louise's release her supporters in Elton Cheshire had cheered
the night away in their local pub. This was seen to be in questionable
taste by many stateside, following the tragic death of baby Matthew.
Meanwhile the fight to clear Louise's name is being continued
in both the UK by her campaign team and in Boston by her defence
The campaign to prove Louise's innocence goes on. Her former
au pair agency has agreed to fund the defence's appeal against
conviction. Her defence team are keen to see the appeal called
as soon as possible.
Louise Woodward is staying in a Boston safe house with her
parents. She has been ordering Ferero chocolates by the dozen.
On release she called to her sister and she is reported to have
said she expected a ten year sentence.
Judge Zobel released Louise after reducing her sentence to
manslaughter. He sentenced her to the 279 days she had already
served. He said that was "the compassionate conclusion"
to this case.
However, following a bizarre prosecution request she has had
to surrender her passport pending a further hearing within 30
Prosecution attorney Gerry Leone argued for the sentence to
be bewtween 15 years and the maximum for manslaughter in Massachussets,
20 years. Defence attorney Andrew Good reinforced his clients
protestation of innocence and asked for her to be sentenced to
time served. Louise once more addressed the judge, protesting
Judge Zobel sentenced Louise at 8.00pm Monday (London time,
3.00pm Boston time). He had the power to reduce her sentence
to a shorter prison term or probation.
Louise: It's MANSLAUGHTER!
Judge Hiller Zobel reduced Louise's conviction from murder
in the second degree to manslaughter. Revised sentencing took
place shortly afterwards. For Zobel's full judgement see: http://www.lawyersweekly.com
JUDGE Hiller Zobel had told the press that they should not
expect a decision before Monday 10 November.
The judge had started off Tuesday's appeal hearing by announcing
that he would not be making a final ruling immediately. Now we
know we have to wait until at least next Monday.
Defence and prosecution were allowed one hour each for their
submissions at the hearing. The defence pleaded for a not guilty
verdict, a re-trial or a reduction in sentence to manslaughter.
Barry Sheck for Louise Woodward argued that the late disclosure
of critical photos of Matthew's injuries was extremely prejudicial
to her case.
Prosecutors argued that the Jury did act reasonably with access
to sufficient evidence to convict of second degree murder.
The likely defence submissions on 4 November 1997 could include
the following matters which may have prejudiced her trial...(Click for Grounds of Appeal
The campaign to free her is being directed from a pub in Louise's
home village of Elton. Letters of support for Louise and her
family can be sent to (Click
here for details)
Have your say...email us at: email@example.com
"there are reasonable doubts..."
"In my heart and in my experience, I think she is guilty..."
95% say not guilty | 5% say guilty
Click here to read a selection
of your letters so far
NB We have been inundated with letters from around the world,
we will read every one and publish a selection of your views
on these pages
Links to other Louise
Don't forget ... LondonNet's News
In what is believed to be a legal first, Judge Zobel announced
that his judgement will be delivered live on the ...LondonNet
will bring you news of the rulings as soon as they are... (Click Here)
DA offers Louise manslaughter
DISTRICT Attorney Tom Reilly has told reporters that he would
not have resisted a defence motion to reduce Louise's conviction
from murder to manslaughter.
Louise's lawyers were reluctant to accept the offer as she
would have needed to admit that she caused Matthew's injuries,
albeit unintentionally. The Cheshire teenager had protested her
innocence throughout the investigation and trial.
Jurors admit miscarriage
LOUISE Woodward was found guilty of murder in the second degree
because the jury was unable to convict her of manslaughter. So
says Woodward juror Jodie Garber, who argues the other jurors
felt the same way.
The news puts more pressure on the legal parties at the hearing.
Defence lawyers have been criticized for not accepting the manslaughter
charge offerred by the prosecution at the last breath of the
The prosecuting attorney, Gerard Leone has been condemned
by the English Bar for setting out the offence of manslaughter
rather than murder in his extraordinarily partisan closing speech.
Judge Zobel has been attacked for not explaining the requisite
elements of the offence of murder to the jury.
Alternate jurors outraged
SCUFFLING took place in the jury area when the four alternate
jurors discovered that their fellows had found Louise guilty
of murder. If any of these four had served on the final panel,
Louise would have walked. The odds of none of these four making
it through to the last twelve jurors is 1820 - 1.
"My Louise went like a lamb to the slaughter";
Britain's tabloid newspaper The News of The World has carried
an exclusive with Louise's one and only love, Simon Holmes. He
said "You tell me how can such a sweet girl who prided herself
on being so virtuous could harm a child, let alone kill her".
He added Louise, 19, insisted on keeping her virginity, saying
she wanted to wait for the right moment.
LIFE for Louise
LOUISE Woodward has been found guilty of murder
in the second degree. She was sentenced to the mandatory life
On hearing the verdict 19 year old Louise broked down in tears,
sobbing "I didn't do it", "how could they do this
to me?" She was comforted by defence lawyer, Andrew Good.
The silver haired attorney later told the press that "the
system has failed her".
JUDGE Zobel sentenced Louise to the mandatory life term Friday
morning after hearing representations from her and Matthew's
parents Deborah and Sunil Eappen. She faces a minimum period
of 15 years, with no eligibilty for parole until that time.
D-Day for Louise Woodward
BRITISH au pair Loiuse Woodward's fate
was determined late on Thursday night.
Her life was in the hands of a Massachussetts jury composed
of nine women and three men. They deliberated for five hours
Tuesday, all day Wednesday and Thursday. The jury spent the nights
in a local hotel, cut off from the outside world.
Woodward, 19, from Cheshire stood accused of the murder of
eight month old Matthew Eappen. Convicted of murder in the second
degree murder she will be entitled to parole late into her life
The former au pair chose not to face an alternate charge of
manslaughter. The shock move is known as the "noose or loose"