Salvi’s Death Erases Murder Conviction

<i> from Associated Press</i>

In life, John C. Salvi III was an antiabortion fanatic found guilty of murdering two abortion clinic workers. In death, his conviction is history.

Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara, who had sentenced Salvi to life in prison, voided his convictions because he died before his appeal could be heard. Salvi, 24, died of an apparent suicide in his prison cell in November.

Lee Ann Nichols, 38, and Shannon Lowney, 25, were killed and five others wounded by Salvi in the Dec. 30, 1994, attacks at two Brookline, Mass., clinics.

The judge’s Jan. 21 decision delivered new pain to the families of his victims.


“I have to tell you the truth, it’s as if John Salvi is coming from the grave to bring me some hurt,” Ruth Nichols, Lee Ann’s mother, told WBZ-TV.

Salvi was sentenced to life in prison without parole last year by Dortch-Okara after a jury rejected his lawyers’ arguments that he was insane.

The attorney who argued for voiding the convictions, James Sultan, said he relied on a state court ruling that held if a defendant dies before a conviction is reviewed, the charges are dismissed.

“Mr. Salvi is no longer with us, so I think he has suffered the ultimate punishment,” Sultan told the Boston Globe. “In our legal system, everybody is entitled to have the fairness of their conviction reviewed on appeal before it is considered legally final and binding. John Salvi never had that opportunity.”