True crime: Elvio Marrero

Elvio Marrero was convicted for the 1994 murder of Pernell Kimplin. Today, Marrero has a new defense team.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 10:38 PM EST
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GREENFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A man from Greenfield is requesting a new trial after being behind bars for more than two decades. The motion hearing in the murder case wrapped up a little more than a week ago.

Elvio Marrero was convicted for the 1994 murder of Pernell Kimplin. Today, Marrero has a new defense team.

Western Mass News is getting answers on the evidence they have, and what a new trial could mean for Elvio Marrero.

It was the fall of 1994 in the Franklin County city of Greenfield. On October 16th, Pernell Kimplin was found gruesomely murdered in his apartment.

According to court documents from 1997 and 1998, Kimplin was “gagged, and his hands and feet were ‘hog-tied,’ with electrical cords and rope. He had been stabbed once in the chest and once in the back. He also had been beaten about his head, neck, shoulders, and back with a wooden board broken from a dresser.”

The medical examiner ruled that his death happened two days before and that the cause was stab wounds.

“This was a very horrific crime, and it’s horrible what happened to the victim,” said Ira Gant.

Gant, Forensic Services Director for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, is Elvio Marrero’s new defense attorney. He said that his client was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Kimplin.

In his 1996 trial, the prosecution argued that Marrero was a crack cocaine dealer who sold drugs to the victim and was owed money.

The defense at the time claimed it was another drug customer who committed the horrendous crime, but a jury found Marrero guilty that November, and he has spent the last 25 years behind bars.

“Like many clients, Elvio wrote to us,” Gant told us.

Marrero contacted Gant and his team, proclaiming his innocence.

After translating the Dominican Republic native’s letters and researching his case, Gant reached out to the Boston College Innocence Program, eventually bringing on his co-counsel, Lauren Jacobs, to try and get Marrero a new trial after they said that there is concrete evidence he was out of the country.

“At trial, he produced flight records and his passport to show he was either flying to or in the Dominican Republic,” Gant said. “At the time, other witnesses said he was in Massachusetts, having just killed the victim.”

Western Mass News dug deeper into the difficulty of relying on witnesses all these years later with Associate Professor of Criminal Justice David Kuzmeski.

“Especially with this type of time, witnesses may have disappeared, they may have died,” Kuzmeski explained.

He said that the lapse of time could be a problem for both the prosecution and defense, but that does not mean there cannot be advancements in a case.

“There’s always the opportunity that there’s new evidence found, whatever that is. In this case, maybe travel information or DNA evidence,” Kuzmeski said.

That is just what Marrero’s defense team has.

“We’re bringing in a number of new pieces of evidence,” Gant told us.

Gant, Jacobs, and the Innocence Program began to find other supporting travel documents to prove his innocence, but that is not all.

“In 2017 and 2018, we did DNA testing on several items from the crime scene,” Gant said.

These items included articles of clothing presented in the 90′s trial.

“Items that the jury were told could have had Mr. Marrero’s DNA or blood on them,” Gant explained. “And testing Mr. Marrero’s own clothes that the jury was told could have had the victim’s blood on it.”

Professor Kuzmeski broke down the prosecution’s side.

“They would have to, in this case, evaluate and attack whatever new evidence there is,” he said.

Does this mean that Elvio Marrero will be granted a new trial? That is for a judge to decide.

“Prosecutors are used to doing retrials,” Kuzmeski said. “They have the transcripts, the jury minutes, they have everything from the first trial at their disposal.”

If Marrero is granted a new trial, the Innocence Program will take on more responsibilities.

“With any client who is released after spending so much time in prison, we set them up with some type of social service worker who can connect them with housing and the different things they’ll need as they reenter society,” Jacobs told us.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services said that they will provide legal representation in Massachusetts for anyone unable to afford an attorney who they believe they can help.

We did reach out to the Northwestern District Attorney who did not wish to comment on this case.

The prosecution and defense are now preparing written arguments for March 21st, then it is out of their hands.