Monday, August 8, 2011
The Ultimate Town Vs. Gown Murder Case
Michael Colono was no angel. It turned out he had a criminal record - and a temper. His previous exploits included "a 2001 episode in which he threw money in the face of a cashier at a pizza restaurant, then kicked in the front door and shattered the glass." Curiously, he was waiting outside another pizza restaurant with a friend, Samuel Rodriguez, when they accosted Pring-Wilson. The guy seemed to have had a thing about pizza.
What could have been a clear-cut case of self-defense fell by the wayside when Pring-Wilson lied to the authorities, despite making the 911 call to bring them to the scene after the stabbing. "He initially told police he was a bystander at a fight during which a young man was stabbed. He later told a fire captain who responded to the 911 call that he had intervened in a fight between two other men because he had a pen knife with him." These falsehoods paved the way for Colono's buddy, Samuel Rodriguez, to introduce his own dubious claim - that Pring-Wilson started the whole thing by pulling open their car door as soon as he was accosted and starting the fight right then and there.
When Pring-Wilson went to the trial, Rodriguez's testimony bore the most weight, and Pring-Wilson was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Colono's criminal history was not introduced. This conviction was later overturned, and Pring-Wilson was retried, but that trial ended in a hung jury. In a third trial, Pring-Wilson entered a guilty plea to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years. His troubles did not end there. As of June 2011, he was awaiting the results of a wrongful death suit filed against him to the tune of $260,000.
My own personal opinion is that Pring-Wilson should not have been so drunk in the first place - but, once drunk and under assault by a couple of probably very tough teenagers, his response was understandable. The prosecutors most likely played on townie hostility to the Boston area's ubiquitous college students - particularly Harvard students, and most especially WASP male Harvard students. The first trial shamelessly demonized Pring-Wilson to the extent that the FBI was seriously "liking" him, as they say, for a number of serial murders perpetrated in his native Colorado.
The moral of the story is this - don't mess with the townies, especially if your demographic profile puts you at a disadvantage in that vicinity. I.e., don't mess with the townies in Redneck-ville if you happen to be black. Conversely, don't mess with the townies in a politically correct college town if you're a privileged Anglo. Ironically, the PC ethos of liberal Harvard had so pervaded the mindset of the regular folks of Cambridge, Mass. that a Harvard boy had no chance. Talk about being hoisted on your petard.
Ex-grad student gets 2 years for killing (USA Today)
Pring-Wilson Takes the Stand (Harvard Crimson)
Alexander Pring-Wilson: The Last Trial? (The Freedom Bulletin)