Defense in double murder claims witness may have played a role in aftermath

File photoWes Doughty with his attorney, John V. Apruzzese, right, during an earlier court appearance.  Appruzze hast week requested that an attorney be appointed to represent witness Christine Cummisky, the girlfriend of Doughty's former co-defendant in the case, Michael Hebb.  Doughty's trial for the double murder of a man and a woman in a Peabody home in 2017 is slated to begin next month.

PEABODY — A key witness in a grisly double murder inside a Peabody home 2 1/2 years ago may have herself been an accessory after the fact and mislead investigators, the suspect's lawyer charged in a motion filed last week. 

Wes Doughty, 41, is set to stand trial next month in the murders of Mark Greenlaw, 37, and Jennifer O'Connor, 40, inside a home at 19 Farm Ave. in Peabody back in February 2017. He is also charged with raping O'Connor, attempting to set a fire to cover up the crimes, then kidnapping and carjacking a man in his efforts to flee.

The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 9 either in Salem Superior or Lawrence Superior Court. 

But last Wednesday, Doughty's attorney, John Apruzzese, filed a motion seeking to have an attorney appointed to represent witness Christine Cummisky, the girlfriend of Doughty's former co-defendant in the case, Michael Hebb. 

No action has been taken on the motion, and another pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 28.

Apruzzese argues in the motion that Cummisky — the woman who fled the home and flagged down a passing driver on Farm Avenue, then reported what had happened in the home — "will incriminate herself" if she takes the stand. 

Hebb, 48, is serving a six- to seven-year state prison term after pleading guilty to being an accessory after the fact to O'Connor's death and attempted arson for his role in attempting to destroy evidence. He is expected to testify as well. 

Apruzzese, in his motion and affidavit, suggests that Cummisky "participated in activities that assisted the primary suspects" at the time of the murders. 

Cummiskey "testified that the time of these incidents was Saturday evening, Feb. 18, 2017," Apruzzese wrote. "Several independent witnesses, and police investigation, confirmed that the time of the incidents was late Friday evening (Feb. 17) or early Saturday morning." 

In his filing, Apruzzese says Hebb, in an interview after his arrest, told investigators that he and Doughty had cleaned up the bodies of Greenlaw and O'Connor as well as the kitchen, and that Cummisky "stayed close to him" during that process. 

Another witness who testified at the grand jury, however, said he was at the home on the afternoon of Feb. 18, and noticed what appeared to be blood on the snowy ground and on Doughty's boot, but that Cummisky told him "they were cooking pasta sauce," according to Apruzzese's memo. 

"There is ample evidence presented to suggest that Ms. Cummisky has criminal liability in the accused offenses as an accessory after the fact and possibly misleading a police investigation," Apruzzese argued. "Ms. Cummisky, by her own admission, has lived at the Farm Avenue address for several months and has testified as to drug use and knowledge about drug distribution activity occurring at the address. Furthermore, Ms. Cummisky testifies that she is present during the alleged murders and remains on scene for some time after they occur." 

The lawyer also suggests that one of the investigators repeatedly had difficulty locating Cummisky to question her further about the discrepancies in the timeline and the alleged comment about making sauce. 

"The combination of Ms. Cummisky's presence on scene at Farm Avenue with the defendants for an extended period of time, and (the other witness's) testimony that she fabricates a fact directly connected to the alleged murders lead to the necessary conclusion that Ms. Cummisky has some involvement after the occurrence of the incident," Apruzzese argues. 

He said he believes a lawyer should be brought in to advise her of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

If Cummiskey sought to invoke her right, it would ultimately be up to a judge, who would hear a preview of her testimony in a closed courtroom, to determine whether she has a right not to testify. 

Prosecutors can also offer immunity to any potential witness. 

The Essex District Attorney's office has not formally responded to the motion. 

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

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