The Wrongful Conviction of Alfred Trenkler
There was no physical or forensic evidence that tied Alfred to the crime. He was neither the builder of the bomb nor present at the crime scene. The prosecution needed to have something that would connect him. Since there was no motive they had to have concrete proof that would show Alfred was the mastermind. What better way to prove a link then to create a diagram "supposedly" drawn by the suspect? The only problem being there was no actual diagram. Here was how the prosecution and ATF agents were willing to create the evidence to prove Alfred's guilt and ignore evidence that would prove his innocence.
Alfred was interviewed by ATF agents Thomas D'Ambrosio and Dennis Leahy at his ARCOMM office on November 5, 1991 along with 8 -10 other BPD officers who did a search of the premises. These agents testified that they asked Alfred to draw a diagram of the 1986 firecracker device that he had built. He complied. The agents then testified that they asked Alfred to "hypothetically" draw a mock-up of what he thought the 1991 device would have looked like. Both agents claim that Alfred drew a diagram of the device which consisted of two blasting caps (this was supposedly a significant piece of evidence against Alfred even though the ATF had released this information to the press). The agents state that at that moment they knew Alfred was involved and exchanged a knowing glance. Agents D'Ambrosio and Leahy agree that they never asked Alfred to sign, date and label the diagram, which is a common practice in evidence collection. The 2 diagrams that the agents claim was drawn (on the same piece of paper) was never collected for analysis or as evidence. Other items were collected this night and Agent Leahy was the officer that wrote out the receipt for the those items but the diagram was not one of them. Agent D'Ambrosio testified that it wasn't until the next morning that he realized the diagram wasn't in evidence. Boston police detective McCarthy filed a report about events of the ARCOMM search and interview and there was no mention of the diagram in that report. Agent Kerr, who was a case agent with the ATF filed a report as well on November 7, 1991 which covered the events of November 5 and 6, 1991 and again there was no mention of diagrams. The first mention of diagrams in any report is not until January 17, 1992. In May of 1993, at the prosecution's request Agents D'Ambrosio and Leahy re-created the diagram that they claim Alfred had drawn that night in November for the upcoming trials of Shay Jr. and Alfred. Their re-creation consisted of two sticks of dynamite with a blasting cap attached to each. However, the actual debris at the crime scene does not match the re-created drawing. There were 3 blasting caps present in the debris and the dynamite was not actual sticks but rather a compound held together with magazine pages and tape. There were about a dozen police and ATF agents present when these diagrams were supposedly drawn and this was the concrete evidence that linked Alfred to the crime but it wasn't collected and was not reported till over 2 months later. There are several issues that are clearly at odds with the agents testimony. First, Alfred swears he never drew a diagram of the 1991 device because he knew nothing about dynamite or blasting caps and there is no actual evidence otherwise. Second, this fictitious diagram was never retrieved and entered into evidence even though there were several officers present, searching and collecting items for analysis. Agent Leahy not only witnessed this supposed diagram being drawn but also was the agent responsible for issuing Alfred a receipt for the items taken that night and claims that he did not notice that the most important piece of evidence is not listed. Third, there were at least 10 officers and agents present at the interview/search and not a single report was filed to mention this crucial piece of evidence until over 2 months later. Lastly and perhaps most importantly the re-created diagram did not match the forensic evidence recovered from the crime scene. Either these agents are incompetent or suspicious. Neither option strengthens the integrity of the government's case.
The ATF and the US Attorney were anything but truthful regarding the evidence in this case. Alfred's expert, Denny Kline (Kline) would schedule a time to view the evidence only to find it was not available. Kline was hampered since the government knew what it was he needed to help Alfred and the government would always have some excuse for not providing the forensic evidence. Kline found a fingerprint on the tape used to wrap the dynamite, showed it to the ATF agents and the AUSA present. and insisted that the identity of this fingerprint on the tape would solve their case, because only the bomb maker could have left a fingerprint between layers of tape. This tape disappeared until the trial, and even then, Alfred had no idea that a print had been observed. What is most troubling is the breakdown in communications between Kline and Alfred's attorney and/or Alfred and his attorney since this tape print was never mentioned prior to or during trial. Alfred only discovered this missing piece of evidence as the result of a 2007 conversation between Alfred's advocate (Morrison Bonpasse) and Kline.
Why was it in other high profile federal cases, such as the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case in the 4th circuit, evidence has been stored for 27 years?
Why was there such a rush to destroy the evidence in Alfred's case at the ten year mark with no notice given to any party (Alfred, his attorney or the court) of the desire to destroy the evidence?
In 2007 the Boston Police Department (BPD) learned that the government had destroyed all the evidence in Alfred's case; they were surprised since in Massachusetts as long as the defendant in a case is incarcerated, evidence had to be maintained. Alfred filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request with the BPD to examine any remaining evidence they might have. Initially the BPD responded as they had in the past that the feds took everything. Subsequently after further searching, evidence was located and the BPD sent Alfred a list of all the evidence held by the them. Arrangements were made to inspect the evidence and the Boston Herald paid for the copying fee (538 pages of documents and 3 video tapes copied to CD's). This evidence caused quite the stir. The BPD met with US Attorney's Office in order to discuss starting a reinvestigation of this case. The US Attorney, Carmen Ortiz, responded that the government was satisfied with the case and told the BPD to lay off it. The question remains why did the BPD shelve its own reinvestigation; when they knew something was amiss?