Boston Globe
 March 17, 1990 

 By John Ellement, Globe Staff

 Laurence Adams already knows the subject of the thesis he will write if he 
 ever gets into graduate school. It will be called "thriving in extreme 

 He spent 30 years in prison for a murder he insisted that he did not 
 commit, including time on death row as the last man sentenced to execution 
 before Massachusetts abandoned the death penalty in 1975. Adams, now 51, 
 lived in the state prison at Walpole when it was so violent and dangerous 
 that inmates called it the "House of Frankenstein."

 Yesterday, Adams walked out of court and greeted his family, a free man 
 for the first time in three decades. Last month a judge threw out Adams's 
 murder conviction after concluding that someone else had killed James 
 Corry, an MBTA porter, in 1972.

 Prosecutors will decide whether to try Adams again but they recommended 
 that he be freed, a move that almost never happens when a person is facing 
 a first-degree murder charge, and suggests that the case is over.

 "I never lost faith. Jesus said that faith is a mustard seed [that] could 
 move mountains and uproot trees and that's what I had," Adams told 
 reporters after he was freed in Suffolk Superior Court. "I believe that 
 God softened [prosecutors'] hearts and made them see the way."

 It took his supportive family and dogged lawyer, John J. Barter, eight 
 years to unearth hidden Boston police records that helped convince 
 Superior Court Judge Robert A. Mulligan that Adams did not get a fair 

 Yesterday, as Adams's mother, sister, brother, and niece looked on, 
 Suffolk Assistant District Attorney John E. Powers III told Superior Court 
 Judge Christopher J. Muse that prosecutors are reviewing the evidence used 
 against Adams and will decide, probably by June 7, whether to try him 
 again but recommended that Adams be freed on personal recognizance.

 As Muse released Adams without bail, Adams's sister, Donna Henderson, gave 
 a muted whoop of joy, took off her glasses, and wiped tears from her eyes. 
 Adams's 81-year-old mother smiled, walked out of the courtroom, and waited 
 to hug the middle of her three children.

 "It's the happiest day of my life," said Mary Adams, who lives in the 
 South End and is credited by her children with being the force behind the 
 family's unshakable belief in Laurence Adams's innocence.

 Adams was also greeted inside the courthouse by Shawn Drumgold, a 
 Dorchester man whose murder conviction was thrown out last year. Drumgold, 
 38, said he met Adams while both were incarcerated and that he wanted to 
 wish him well on his first day as a free man. He said Adams needs to be 
 patient as he adjusts to the changed world in which he will live.

 In an interview, Mary Adams recalled being in another courtroom 30 years 
 ago when another judge sentenced her son to die by electrocution, a 
 sentence that was never carried out because the state's highest court 
 banned the death penalty in Massachusetts one year later.

 "It just felt like something was missing," she said. "A piece of me was 
 missing. It was a funny feeling that you can't explain."

 Adams called the day he was sentenced to death "a dark day" but said he 
 remained optimistic. He said he spent his 20s and 30s inside the state 
 prison at Walpole, where the environment was so chaotic and disruptive 
 that it took him until 1989 to get his bachelor's degree from Curry 

 During the 30 years he spent behind bars - 21 of them in Walpole, the last 
 nine in MCI-Norfolk - Adams said his faith in God and in himself kept 
 alive the hope that he would not die in prison, even after the Supreme 
 Judicial Court upheld his conviction in 1978.

 In his 24-page ruling, Mulligan said Boston police hid reports that could 
 have helped Adams prove his innocence. In one report, the crucial 
 prosecution witness, Wyatt Moore, told investigators that he learned 
 information about the slaying while imprisoned in Billerica with one of 
 the two brothers now believed responsible for Corry's slaying, Warren and 
 Harry Ambers. Corry was fatally beaten inside a Boston subway station.

 Another report showed that Moore was incarcerated on Deer Island when 
 Adams allegedly confessed to him in Dorchester.

 Mulligan also noted that Suffolk prosecutors cut deals with Moore - who 
 was facing long prison terms for weapons charges, among other crimes - as 
 well as his sister, Susie Moore, but never told the defense or the jury 
 that the Moores would benefit from testifying against Adams.

 The judge also found that the lawyer appointed to represent Adams, the 
 late Melvin Silverman, had represented Warren Ambers during the early 
 stages of the investigation and could not, under ethical rules, point to 
 Ambers as the killer during Adams's trial. That stripped Adams of a 
 powerful defense weapon, the judge said.

 According to Barter, all of those who implicated Adams are now dead. Harry 
 Ambers was convicted of murdering Corry and died of cancer in prison. 
 Although evidence pointed to Warren Ambers's involvement, he was never 
 prosecuted, Barter said.

 "I'm the last man standing," said Adams.