Mass. DA formally drops murder charges in Craigslist killing, plans to detail evidence soon

By Denise Lavoie, AP
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mass. formally drops charges in Craigslist killing

BOSTON — Prosecutors formally dropped murder charges Thursday against a man who committed suicide in his jail cell while awaiting trial in the slaying of a masseuse he met through Craigslist.

Philip Markoff, 24, a former Boston University medical student, was charged in the 2009 killing of Julissa Brisman, 25, of New York City. Brisman was beaten with a gun and shot three times at a Boston hotel.

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley, whose office filed the document saying the prosecution had been terminated because of Markoff’s death, said Brisman’s family is frustrated they won’t be able to face the accused.

“They were robbed of the opportunity to have him held accountable in a court of law,” Conley said. “In some respects, these trials — when they do occur — are cathartic for people.”

Conley said he plans to publicly release evidence against Markoff within a few weeks, which he hopes will bring some satisfaction to the family and show the public the “compelling, very, very strong case” prosecutors had. The evidence will include surveillance video showing Markoff in the lobby of the Boston hotel where Brisman was killed and a hollowed-out copy of the medical textbook “Gray’s Anatomy,” where authorities said Markoff stashed the gun he used to kill Brisman.

Brisman, along with 34 other homicide victims, will be honored later Thursday at an annual ceremony at Boston’s “Garden of Peace,” a memorial for nearly 700 homicide victims. Brisman and the other victims will be memorialized with engraved stones in the garden near the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Just before the ceremony, Brisman’s family will deliver a victim-impact statement written by Brisman’s mother, Carmen Guzman, about how the slaying has affected her and her family.

Brisman was killed on April 14, 2009, a few days before her 26th birthday. She had met Markoff at a Boston hotel when he responded to an ad she had placed in the “erotic services” section of Craigslist.

The classified ad website recently took down the section, which law enforcement officials said was a conduit for prostitution and other illegal activity. On Wednesday, a company official told federal lawmakers that Craigslist had no plans to reopen the section, but said people seeking to advertise sexual services would simply migrate to other Internet sites.

Markoff was also charged with robbing another women he met four days earlier in another Boston hotel and the attempted robbery of a woman at a Rhode Island hotel. Prosecutors said he also met those two women through Craigslist.

Markoff, a second-year medical student at Boston University at the time of his arrest, was found dead last month in his cell at Boston’s Nashua Street Jail. Authorities said he made a scalpel from a pen and a piece of metal, inflicted wounds in his neck, arms, wrists and ankles, cut his carotid artery and covered his head with a plastic bag.

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