SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 6, 2014

Ex-Swampscott cop denied parole in 1987 slaying

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — A former reserve police officer for the town of Swampscott who pleaded guilty to killing a Beverly man back in 1987 has been denied parole for the third time.

Richard Crotty, now 56, shot Gary Landry, 34, in the back of his head, execution-style, because he owed Landry $40,000 and didn’t want to pay it back, prosecutors alleged at the time.

At the time, Crotty was trying to start a construction business while working as a reserve officer in Swampscott.

Crotty owned at least two guns according to court documents, but borrowed a gun from his landlord to commit the crime, then returned it to the owner, said nothing, and went about his business.

He even attended Landry’s funeral, expressing condolences, according to the Parole Board’s decision.

Crotty, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1988, insists that he only brought the handgun with him to Landry’s home that day because he intended to hand over a briefcase containing the $40,000 he’d borrowed.

Crotty told Parole Board members during a hearing last fall that he wanted to return the money rather than accept what he claimed was Landry’s demand for 50 percent interest, not the 10 percent he’d agreed to.

The gun, Crotty testified, was to protect the money. He claimed that when he saw Landry reach into his pocket, he shot him.

But Parole Board members pointed out that the account doesn’t explain why Landry was shot in the back of the head execution-style, why he then returned the murder weapon to his friend without mentioning that it had been used to shoot someone to death, and why he went to Landry’s funeral and offered his condolences, never revealing that he was responsible for the death.

“These actions reveal a consciousness of guilt that is inconsistent with Crotty’s suggestion that he acted out of fear or in self-defense,” the board wrote in its unanimous decision, released last month.

Landry was found face down in a pool of blood in the basement of his home the following day by a neighbor who went to check on him after he failed to show up for work for a couple of days.

Crotty’s conviction on second-degree murder made him eligible for parole after serving 15 years, but his two prior bids for parole, in 2003 and 2008, were also rejected.

Several friends and family members of Landry spoke in opposition to Crotty’s parole, as did an assistant district attorney.

Prosecutor Elin Graydon noted that Crotty has long fought the case against him, pleading guilty only after losing a motion to suppress evidence, then, 23 years later filing a motion for a new trial, claiming his attorney at the time was “ineffective.”

Crotty’s lawyer back in 1987 and 1988 was John Jennings, considered at the time to be the leading defense attorney in Essex County.

Crotty has also challenged his prior denials of parole in court, contending that he’s improperly been held to a higher standard than other convicted killers because of his past role as a police officer.

The Parole Board also concluded that Crotty has opted to work at a prison job rather than take part in rehabilitative programs.

The board ruled that Crotty can try again for parole in three years.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.