April 30, 2011 FRED CONTRADANORTHAMPTON - Calling her claims "unfounded" and "roughly cobbled together," a judge has denied Sandra Dostie's motion for a new trial on the murder of her stepson.
Dostie, who is now 42, was convicted of first-degree murder in 1995 for smothering her 5-year-old stepson Eric Dostie in their Easthampton home. Prosecutors said Sandra Dostie resented the child support that Eric's father paid to his mother and the care Sandra had to provide the sickly boy, who had hemophilia. She was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Earlier this month, Dostie's new lawyer, Framingham attorney Sandra F. Bloomenthal, filed a motion for a new trial based on the contention that Janice Healy, who represented Dostie at her murder trial, violated attorney-client privilege by providing damning information to reporter Pippin Ross. Ross allegedly used the material in a Boston Magazine story published shortly before the trial. Although she included a copy of the story in her motion, along with an undated letter purportedly sent by Ross to Healy, Bloomenthal did not specify what information Healy supposedly shared with Ross. In fact, Ross' letter appears exculpatory, telling Healy she was not the primary source of the information for her story.
Judge Constance M. Sweeney, who presided over Dostie's murder trial, denied the motion Friday, less than 10 days after it was filed, calling the claims unsupported.
"A letter, which the defendant claims was written by the reporter to one of the defense attorneys, does not assist the defendant," Sweeney wrote. "The defendant fails to provide any credible basis for her allegation that one of her attorneys violated the ethical obligations attendant on the attorney-client relationship."
Sweeney goes on to say that Dostie was well represented, calling Healy a "highly experienced and skilled chief trial counsel." Healy, who currently works in the office of Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan, could not be reached for comment. First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagne released a statement saying, "We are pleased the court denied the defendant's motion and preserved Dostie's conviction for murdering a 5-year-old defenseless child."
In her request for a new trial, Dostie seemingly admits murdering her stepson but claims she was suffering from a "severe mental illness" brought on by pregnancy. Sweeney also dismisses that argument, noting that Dostie swore under oath at her trial that she did not kill the child but rather that Eric was murdered by two unidentified men who supposedly broke into the house.
"The evidence revealed that the defendant hatched an elaborate plan to murder the child and an even more elaborate plan to deflect suspicion away from her," Sweeney wrote. "She is not entitled to nor does she deserve a new trial."
Bloomenthal said Friday she will appeal Sweeney's ruling. She declined to comment further, saying she had not yet seen it.
Ross did not respond to requests for an interview. At the time of Dostie's trial in 1995, she enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, reporting for the Amherst-based radio station WFCR-FM and writing for magazines. An alcohol addiction took a toll on her career, however, and she was sentenced to jail in 2005 for operating under the influence of alcohol as a fourth offender. Ross compounded her troubles when she forged documents for her early release. Charges resulting from that crime landed her in Framingham State Prison, where she became Dostie's fellow inmate. Although the two women were acquainted there, Dostie's lawyer has declined to disclose the nature of their discussions.