SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 11, 2012

Defense seeks to bar photos of baby

SALEM — Lawyers for the Marblehead man charged with repeatedly stabbing his pregnant girlfriend, killing both her and their unborn but nearly full-term baby, sought yesterday to prevent prosecutors from using autopsy photos of the fetus.

“There’s nothing to look at other than a blue child,” said defense lawyer Chauncey Wood, one of three privately retained attorneys representing Peter Ronchi, 48, in his trial on two counts of first-degree murder.

At the reference to his dead son, Ronchi, who has claimed the attack was provoked by Yulyia Galperina’s purported statement that the baby she was about to deliver was not his, Ronchi broke down in the courtroom, weeping into a handkerchief during the late-afternoon hearing in Salem Superior Court.

Wood argued that the photos would serve only to bias the jurors against his client.

Judge David Lowy, meanwhile, said he cannot rule one way or the other on the autopsy photos until he hears testimony from the medical examiner, leaving the issue unresolved for now.

It was one of a series of contentious motions in the case, argued at the end of a second day of jury selection in the trial, which Ronchi’s lawyers have said could last up to five weeks.

The lawyers have now gone through two full Superior Court jury pools of about 70 people each and yesterday considered another 10 potential jurors who were sent over from Peabody District Court after lunch. They still need to choose two more jurors, a task that Lowy told the lawyers should be completed this morning.

Lowy told the lawyers that he expects to have opening statements in the case by 11 a.m.

But before then, the judge will have to rule on several other pretrial motions, including a request by the prosecution to prevent the defense from calling a series of “bad character” witnesses.

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