The Last Detective - Nardizzi Inc.

It is OVER - James Watson Free After 41 Years

61-year-old James J. Watson, the second man convicted for the 1979 murder of Jeffrey Boyajian of Swampscott, had his conviction overturned on November 5, 2020. Watson served more than 41 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.

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Although Watson was serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, he had been released from prison in April 2020 due to the strength of his wrongful conviction claims and the danger he faced of developing severe illness due to coronavirus. But the final court hearing on his murder conviction remained.

Then Watson's legal team got the news—it was over. Watson's conviction was overturned and prosecutors dismissed all charges against him. Watson's family and legal team met at his sister's apartment and planned a surprise party to break the news.

Watson's investigator, John Nardizzi of Nahant, devised a plan to get Watson out of the house for a few hours. On an unseasonably warm November afternoon, Nardizzi took Watson and his son, Donjuan Moses, shopping for clothes. They selected a lavender shirt to go with Watson's new custom suit. “I don't recognize that man,” joked Watson as he looked in the mirror at his new outfit, a decided upgrade from prison garb. “I could take Biden's job.”

When Watson came home, the surprise party was joyous as the family and legal team celebrated and sipped champagne. "All that matters to me is I get to comfort my dad now and do things with my dad now," said Moses.

Nardizzi and his team conducted critical investigation into the case, securing key affidavits from several witnesses. A Suffolk Superior Court judge cited evidence and "questions raised in this case of: hypnosis of identification witnesses . . and the potential testimony, rewards, and inducements of a highly inculpatory trial witness.”

Watson’s co-defendant, Frederick Clay, was exonerated 3 years ago after serving 38 years behind bars for the killing of Boyajian, a crime he maintained for decades he did not commit. But Watson's case lingered until a legal team came together to exonerate him.

"Jimmy Watson has a special strength to make it this far with mind, body and soul intact," said Nardizzi. He credited staff investigator Jill Vaglica with conducting several important witness interviews in the Watson case. "These cases are incredibly difficult to win and require a dedicated team of investigators, lawyers and experts. We had that team here. We are all thrilled for the Watson family," said Nardizzi.

Watson's attorney, Barbara Munro, said. “The greatest injustice is to take an innocent man away from his son and family," "This could have been prevented here if the then-prosecutor had not withheld from the defense the fact that the eyewitnesses were hypnotized prior to their identifications of Mr. Watson, rendering them unreliable.”

Co-counsel Madeline Blanchette added, “It is impossible to undo the intergenerational trauma that this wrongful conviction inflicted on Mr. Watson and his family, but his exoneration now means that there is still opportunity for healing,"

Watson’s co-defendant, Frederick Clay, was exonerated 3 years ago after serving 38 years behind bars for the killing of Boyajian, a crime he maintained for decades he did not commit.

Watson’s case was supported by Radha Natarajan, Director of the New England Innocence Project. Kristin Dame, Director of Private Social Work Services at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, provided reentry support services to Watson.

Dr. Mary Bassett of The Sentencing Project and Katharine Naples-Mitchell of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School also filed an amicus brief in support of Watson.