March 17, 1990 CONVICTION TOSSED, PRISONER IS FREED WAS INCARCERATED FOR 30 YEARS; PROSECUTORS TO WEIGH RETRIAL 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 environments." 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 trial. 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 College. 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.