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Accounts differ in NH man's trial for 1969 murder of teenager in Mass.

Union Leader Correspondent

January 15. 2013 7:52PM

Michael Ferreira, 59, appears in 10th Circuit Court following his 2011 arrest. He went on trial this week for first-degree murder in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Mass. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO)

WOBURN, Mass. - Two New Hampshire men charged with a 1969 murder they allegedly carried out as teenagers are expected to offer contradictory accounts of how 15-year-old John McCabe was left blindfolded and hogtied in a Lowell, Mass., field more than four decades ago.

Michael Ferreira, 59, of Salem went on trial Tuesday for first-degree murder for allegedly forcing McCabe into a car and holding him down as he was tied up. Ferreira, who was 16 years old at the time, was among three men arrested in April 2011 for the decades-old murder.

Eric Wilson, a Nashua-based defense lawyer, is expected to challenge the testimony of co-defendant Edward Alan Brown, 61, of Londonderry, who provided a key confession to police in March 2011.

According to a court order by Associate Justice Patricia Flynn, Brown gave six different versions of events related to the McCabe homicide and later struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter and serve no jail time in exchange for his testimony against Ferreira.

McCabe was hitchhiking home along Route 38 after he went to a Knights of Columbus dance in Tewksbury, Mass., on the night of Sept. 26, 1969. Lowell police discovered McCabe's body in a vacant field in their town with his eyes and mouth taped shut and hog tied by a white rope, a police report says. According to police, Walter Shelley, 59, of Tewksbury, was jealous that McCabe was talking to his girlfriend on the night of the killing and decided he wanted to teach him a lesson, according to police. Shelley is also charged with murder.

No trial date has been set in his case. Ferreira's defense is also expected to use evidence to suggest that other men had been suspected in the murder but never charged by police. For years, police suspected Ferreira and Shelley had a role in the murder but did not learn of Brown's possible involvement until October 2003.

During an interview with police at his Salem home, Ferreira disclosed to police for the first time that Brown had been with them that night.

Brown, who was in the Air Force Reserve, had never been interviewed before. His first police interview happened in 2007 after he returned from a tour in Kuwait. Brown at first denied any knowledge of the killing but eventually confessed when subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in 2011, according to Flynn.

He was freed on bail after his arrest on the manslaughter charge but landed in Rockingham County jail on April 30 for threatening his wife with a .38-caliber handgun. Brown pleaded no contest to the charge and received a suspended 180-day jail sentence.

Crime, law and justice Salem

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