A Request for Support
April 21, 2009
Dear Senator Webb,
We're writing to you on behalf of Joseph Labriola, who has been incarcerated in Massachusetts for over 36 years for a first degree murder he did not commit. The records from his trial show no eye-witnesses and no incriminating forensic evidence, but definite anti-veteran prejudice.
Joe's two tours of duty as a Marine in Vietnam and his expert marksmanship were used against him in the courtroom. The numerous citations awarding his valor, including the Bronze Star with Combat V, were omitted from testimony. All the 1973 jury was able to hear was the D.A. screaming, "Is it true, Mr. Labriola, that you served in Vietnam? Isn't it also true that you killed lots of people? Isn't it true that to someone like you, killing is no big deal? That's what you were trained for, right?"
The enclosed letter tells of a conversation with the now-Judge Judd Carhart (who was in the D.A.'s office at the time of Joe's trial) wherein he stated that "the evidence seemed circumstantial and . . . the negative stigma around Vietnam veterans had been a major sway of the jury."
Joe is 63 years old. He suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (severe emphysema and asthma) from Agent Orange exposure and chronic pain from his war wounds, and neither of these can be adequately addressed in prison. His condition has deteriorated to the point that we recently submitted a petition for commutation of his sentence to the Massachusetts Board of Pardons based on his failing health.
The clemency petition was turned down, and prominently cited in the board's decision was Joe's record of multiple disciplinary reports. These events are largely decades old and contain no physically threatening or harmful actions. But they do concern incidents of protest and often creative refusal to cooperate - and Joe would explain, "what man wouldn't rebel if he was innocent of a crime for which he was sentenced to life without parole?"
Please go to our website (www.freejoelab.com) for a better understanding of the Joe Labriola story. It is a travesty of justice by the country he fought and bled for. And NO ONE wants to recognize the many errors made. It's much less embarrassing to just keep him in prison.
We believe you are one of the very few people who may be moved to respond to Joe's deepest wish: that he not have to die in prison. We plead for your support as we continue to pursue the state Governor's executive clemency based on Joe's medical disability.
With the utmost sincerity,
And the Joe Labriola Defense Team