Boston Herald
 September 6, 2004 

 Plaintiff can sue in wrongful arrest
 By Tom Mashberg

 Asserting that state police investigators knew they had the wrong man, a 
 Superior Court judge has cleared the way for a Walpole native to sue the 
 state for his wrongful arrest six years ago in the murder of a Foxboro 

 ``On the morning of the day of the plaintiff's arrest, the Massachusetts 
 State Police knew that the plaintiff'' - Edmund F. Burke - ``was not the 
 person who murdered Irene Kennedy,'' Suffolk Superior judge Carol Ball 
 wrote in a ruling made public last week.

 Kennedy, 75, was found stabbed to death, bitten and mauled on Dec. 1, 
 1998. She had separated briefly from her husband during their walk in Bird 
 Park in Walpole.

 The facts of the case, Ball added, ``could be considered an effort by the 
 officers to subvert the integrity of the warrant process by selling the 
 magistrate shoddy goods.''

 Burke, Ball noted, was ruled out as the killer through DNA evidence on 
 Dec. 10, 1998 - four-and-a-half hours before he was led away in shackles 
 by state and Walpole police in front of the news media and a jeering 

 ``Imagine being in a jail full of angry criminals, being treated as the 
 vicious mutilation murderer of a beloved old lady,'' Burke said in an 
 interview yesterday. ``Can it get any worse than that? Everyone hated me, 
 the guards too.

 ``Here was their theory of the murder,'' added Burke, whose brother's wife 
 is the eldest daughter of Irene Kennedy. ``I was irate because I hadn't 
 been invited to the Kennedy family's Thanksgiving dinner.''

 Earlier this year, Martin G. Guy, 42, of Norwood, who is serving a life 
 sentence for a subsequent 1999 stabbing murder, was identified through DNA 
 testing as the man whose saliva was found in bite marks on Kennedy's 

 A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office, which is defending the 
 state in the civil case, said the office could not comment on the pending 

 Burke, 52, who was the sole caretaker of his ailing and elderly mother at 
 the time, spent 41 days in jail and was widely demonized as a sick killer. 
 Living near the murder scene in a ramshackle house, he quickly became the 
 focus of state police and former Norfolk County prosecutors eager for an 
 arrest to soothe a jittery public.

 ``All of the stuff they came up with to arrest me has proven to be lies or 
 false representations to the court,'' Burke said. ``It was like dealing 
 with a Chinese tribunal. They did everything they could to make their 
 evidence point to me.''

 While Burke was jailed, his house was ransacked by police and declared a 
 fire hazard by the Walpole fire chief, who ordered the power shut off. The 
 plumbing and heating systems froze and cracked, forcing Burke's mother, 
 Annette, 88, to move into a motel.

 ``They could hear my mother sobbing alone in the motel room, saying, `Why 
 are they doing this to my poor Eddie?' '' Burke said. ``It was like a 
 death sentence to her, yanking her from her surroundings and seeing her 
 son framed for a horrific murder.

 ``She was treated like a pariah, just like me,'' he said. ``If what 
 happened to me was bad, what happened to her was worse. This travesty 
 killed her.'' Annette Burke died soon after her son was released from jail 
 on Jan. 20, 1999, as a result of the withheld DNA evidence.

 In her ruling, which shot down the state's effort to have Burke's lawsuit 
 dismissed, Ball said the facts brought forward by Burke and his attorneys, 
 Sinsheimer & Associates, show state police learned of the DNA mismatch 
 from the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory at about 11 a.m. on the day 
 of Burke's arrest.

 They nonetheless omitted the DNA findings when seeking a warrant against 
 him, Ball wrote, and Burke was arrested at about 3:30 the same day.