Special Prosecutor Picked To Investigate 2009 Death At Bridgewater State Hospital

Attorney General Martha Coakley has named a special prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 2009 death of a patient at Bridgewater State Hospital.

Coakley on Tuesday asked Martin Murphy to conduct an independent investigation to resolve "lingering questions" about the events surrounding the death of Joshua Messier. Murphy is a former state and federal prosecutor who's now in private practice.

The 23-year-old Messier, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, died while being restrained by guards who strapped his wrists and ankles to the corners of a small bed.

The state medical examiner ruled Messier's death a homicide, but Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said in 2010 there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime, even though it was video recorded.

"I'm so glad it's finally happening," Lisa Brown, Messier's mother, said of the special prosecutor. "It's not only good because of Joshua, because he deserves this, but for all the other disabled people in Massachusetts."

Bridgewater State is actually a medium-security prison run by the state prisons department, and houses about 280 mental health patients.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom


This article was originally published on August 27, 2014.


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