Judge Gary A. Nickerson yesterday allowed a motion filed by John Rams Jr. that could delay his trial for the murder of Shirley M. Reine of East Falmouth. The trial is scheduled to begin Monday at Barnstable Superior Court, but Mr. Rams’s attorney, Timothy R. Flaherty, requested information from interviews with witnesses that have been sealed.
Mr. Flaherty made the request at the final pretrial hearing yesterday.
“The heart of the commonwealth’s case relies on these witnesses and informants. It is clear that a few of them have had relationships and histories in law enforcement and that they have cooperated on other matters to provide the prosecution with evidence,” Mr. Flaherty said. Mr. Flaherty said he believes that one witness is an informant, whom he referred to as Mr. Santiago.
“There were multiple motions filed under seal, which obviously raised my eyebrows. The defendant has an absolute right to that information,” Mr. Flaherty said.
There are three other individuals Mr. Flaherty requested information about, although they were not discussed yesterday.
The motion will require first assistant district attorney Brian S. Glenny to make inquiries with federal agencies and police departments outside of his jurisdiction, including Plymouth and Wareham police departments, the FBI and the US attorney’s office.
Mr. Glenny said that he would comply with the motion but time could be an issue. “I would be happy to send out a letter today, but my guess is that we are not going to get a reply by Monday, if we get a reply at all.”
Judge Nickerson said that he understood the defense’s interest but asked Mr. Flaherty if the motion might be tailored. “Is there some way we can tailor this so that the government is happy with its privilege and you are happy with what you get with the discovery?” Mr. Nickerson asked.
Mr. Flaherty responded that his motion is very expansive, and “all encompassing.”
The judge asked if he had a specific case that would “allow him to boss the federal government around.”
“I don’t have a case but I do have a suggestion: that the court order the motion and that Mr. Glenny, to the best he can, make inquiries to all Barnstable County, Cape and islands jurisdictions and the federal government in regard to these informants,” Mr. Flaherty said. “I understand that the interplay between state and the federal government is sometimes cooperative and sometimes difficult, but that is eviscerated when there is a charge in any indictment, especially involved in an alleged capital crime. The federal government must comply upon the request of the defendant.”
“I will allow the motion and we’ll see where it goes,” Judge Nickerson said.
Mr. Rams was in the courtroom Monday but said nothing. He sat in shackles throughout the final pretrial hearing in a blue button-up shirt, tie and dress pants.
He was arraigned for the murder of Ms. Reine on December 20, 2011, and pleaded not guilty. He is nearing the end of a seven-year sentence for robbing Ms. Reine’s home on East Falmouth Highway.
Ms. Reine was found shot in the garage of her home at 657 East Falmouth Highway on May 10, 2005.
Todd M. Reine, Ms. Reine’s stepson, is scheduled to appear in court on Monday at Mr. Rams’s trial. Mr. Flaherty said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights.
Following Ms. Reine’s death, police uncovered evidence of a previous robbery at Ms. Reine’s home in which a safe was stolen. In addition to Mr. Rams, Todd Reine was convicted for that break-in.
Mr. Rams pleaded guilty to the theft of the safe in 2007. During the subsequent trial of Mr. Reine as a co-conspirator, Mr. Rams testified against Mr. Reine. That testimony was considered key to Mr. Reine’s conviction.
In 2002, Todd Reine and his brother, Melvin J. Reine Jr., filed a lawsuit against Shirley Reine, claiming she influenced their father, Melvin J. Reine Sr., to deprive them of their inheritance. Because of the lawsuit, the two brothers were deemed “persons of interest” in the murder from the beginning of an investigation.
An element of the brothers’ lawsuit against Ms. Reine was the paperwork stolen from the safe, which Todd Reine claimed had appeared on his doorstep one day. Police later learned Todd Reine orchestrated the theft, which was carried out by Mr. Rams and another man.