DEDHAM, Mass. — A man who eluded justice for decades after being convicted of raping three women in Massachusetts may seek a new trial, his lawyer said Friday.
Gary Alan Irving was captured in Gorham, Maine, last month after fleeing Massachusetts in 1979. He was convicted of three counts of rape and kidnapping but went on the run after a judge allowed him to return home to make final arrangements before sentencing.
After Irving appeared briefly in Norfolk Superior Court on Friday, his Boston lawyer, Neil Tassel, said he was looking into the case and may file a motion for a new trial.
“It’s certainly something that we’re investigating,” Tassel told reporters outside court.
Irving was a teenager when he was convicted of raping the three women. When authorities finally caught up with him in Maine 34 years after he fled, he was a 52-year-old man with a wife and two grown children.
Tassel said local authorities were under a “tremendous amount of pressure” to solve the rapes at the time. He said identification procedures then consisted largely of police showing victims photo arrays, which have since been shown to be overly suggestive.
Tassel, who said he was hired by Irving’s wife and children, said people who know Irving in Maine are “astounded” that he was convicted of three rapes.
“In general terms, he strikes me as a very gentle and kind individual,” Tassel said. “It certainly strikes me as improbable that he could have committed these crimes back then.”
Judge Kenneth Fishman scheduled Irving’s sentencing for May 23. He faces a possible life sentence.
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey responded to Tassel’s suggestion that he may file a motion for a new trial.
“These victims have waited 34 years to have this man sentenced on his rape convictions,” Morrissey said. “Our focus now is the victims’ concerns and having them addressed, and to have the justice denied 34 years ago delivered at sentencing on May 23.”
Irving, who lived in Rockland, Mass., was on Massachusetts’ Top 10 Most Wanted list for decades.
In one of the attacks, he was convicted of knocking a woman off her bike and bringing her to a secluded area, where he repeatedly raped her, according to Massachusetts State Police.
In another attack, he was convicted of forcing the victim into his car as she was walking and threatened to use a knife if she didn’t comply.
During Friday’s court hearing, Tassel asked prosecutors to give him a copy of the transcript from Irving’s 1979 trial, but Assistant District Attorney Michele Armour said prosecutors and court clerks have been unable to locate it so far.
Fishman ordered prosecutors to “exhaust efforts” to find the transcript.
Armour said the victims are “very eager to have a resolution in this case as quickly as possible.”
Fishman ordered Irving’s court file to be released publicly after prosecutors said they did not object to a request from The Boston Globe, provided the names of the victims and the jurors who convicted Irving were blacked out.
Under a state law, Irving, as a convicted felon, was required to submit a DNA sample. Authorities can use the sample to try to match it to samples from other crimes in a national database, but Tassel said he “quite confident” Irving did not commit any crimes while he was a fugitive.
Irving’s court file does not contain any detailed descriptions of evidence against Irving in the rape cases.
A court docket shows that his lawyer filed motions to suppress photo and in-court identifications of Irving, and to suppress statements he made to police. His lawyer at the time, Joseph F. Killion, of Quincy, died in 2011.
Irving was convicted on June 27, 1979.