SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 30, 2012

Jury clears man in OD case

Suspect accused of leaving victims on Danvers street

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — A Newburyport Superior Court jury has cleared a Peabody man of assault charges stemming from allegations that he left two overdose victims last year on a Danvers street, where one of them was then run over.

The jury deliberated for about five hours Wednesday and yesterday before reaching two “not guilty” verdicts for John Coyne.

Coyne, 24, had been indicted on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — the heroin he was accused of injecting into one young woman — and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, after a second overdose victim was run over in the road at the intersection of Hyde and Irving streets, where prosecutors alleged Coyne had left her.

Prosecutor Jane Prince suggested in her opening statement earlier this week that the only reasonable conclusion the jury could come to was that Coyne moved the women from the car to the street because they were unconscious at the time and could not get out of the car on their own.

But it was a tough case to prove, with Coyne’s lawyer, Michael Natola, homing in on the fact that there were no witnesses who could testify to seeing Coyne put the women on the street.

Coyne’s co-defendant, Roberto Vasquez, who is serving a year for being an accessory, was not called as a witness.

“There was no evidence as to how it was that they ended up outside the car,” Natola said after the verdict. “They (the prosecution) could only argue inference.”

Natola also said he believes that the testimony of an emergency medical technician who testified in the case that one of the young women admitted injecting the heroin herself helped persuade the jury.

The young woman subsequently told investigators that she had asked Coyne to inject her because of a fear of needles.

Natola had pointed to the discovery of four hypodermic needles in the woman’s purse, however, calling into question her account.

And the second young woman, who suffered a lacerated liver and other injuries when she was run over by a passing truck, has had difficulty with her memory, Natola said.

Coyne, who, according to his father, has completed a drug treatment program and has been doing well during the past year, was “very grateful and happy” with the outcome of the case.

“I thought it was a very difficult case to try and a very difficult case for a jury to decide,” Natola said.

Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said the office had no comment on the verdict.

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