Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Rise and Fall of Thomas Capano

The Fall Guy

Although the prosecution put together a strong circumstantial case, they had no body, no weapon, and no witnesses.  That was a major drawback.  What they needed was as much corroboration of Gerry's story as possible, and then Chubb brought them the cooler.  That was fairly damning evidence.  While they searched the ocean for a body, it was seventeen months after the fact, with little hope of success, and no one came forward to say they'd seen Gerry's boat on the water that day.  Detectives did acquire an ATM photo of Capano withdrawing money on June 28, just as Gerry said, and they had receipts for the new rug and cooler.  But they never found the bloodstained couch or rug.

The cooler had been tested, indicating lead residue around the holes, along with red fabric.  The Faheys had said that a red outfit was missing from Annie's apartment.  Every little bit helped.

They had witnesses who would testify to trouble between Capano and Annie, and some would say that she was afraid.  The key problem with Annie was the fact that she had continued to accept gifts from Capano even as she wanted to break things off.  Going out to dinner with him on June 27 was more in his favor than hers.

Capano had admitted to dumping the love seat, but had two different stories to explain the blood: they made love while she was on her period and she had slit her wrists one night while sitting on the couch.  Yet he admitted that he'd also told a number of lies, which tended to make whatever he said untenable.

Brady, Wharton & Connolly before the press.
Brady, Wharton & Connolly before the press.

The trial began on October 6, 1998, with jury selection, and lasted twelve long, grueling weeks.  Opening arguments began on October 26.  The prosecution team was state prosecutor Ferris Wharton and federal prosecutor Colm Connolly.  For a fee of over half a million dollars, Joseph Oteri led a four-man defense, although Capano argued against their strategy from the first day.  One defense lawyer had quit before the trial even started, and refused to give his reasons.

It was through Oteri that Capano made his first official account of his involvement with Anne Marie's death.  She had died in a tragic accident, he claimed, with one other person present, who would remain unnamed.  Capano had placed her in the cooler and buried her at sea to protect the other person.  He did not kill Annie and he denied telling Gerry about any extortionist.

Much of the testimony came from several of Capano's various mistresses, who were all too willing to share the titillating but sordid details of what Capano wanted them to do.  One man had to admit to a threesome with Capano, and it became clear that even while Capano was married, he'd dated several other women at the same time.  His former wife, Kay, was utterly humiliated, but she came to be there for her daughters.  Her divorce from Capano had become final six months before.


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