Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Rise and Fall of Thomas Capano


Gerard Capano (right) with Attorney Edmund Lyons
Gerard Capano (right) with Attorney Edmund Lyons

The mental health experts used by both sides were ludicrous.  The prosecution brought in a psychiatrist whom Annie had seen who liked wearing wooden hatshe even wore one to courtwhile the defense put forward a woman who went into bizarre theories about Gerry suffering from a condition called confabulation.  In other words, he made things up to fill in the huge gaps in his memory caused by his drug use.  Most of her statements were speculation and Judge William Swain Lee was less than sympathetic about the absurd testimony.  He rolled his eyes several times.

Marguerite Capano, Thomas' mother
Marguerite Capano, Thomas' mother

Much effort went into trying to discredit Gerry's story, and even to declare a mistrial over a deal he'd made to escape prosecution, but none of that worked.  Even the Capano matriarch had given the defense ammunition against her own son.

For a few months, the defense's best witness was slated to be Debbie MacIntyre, the woman whom Capano had seduced and carried on with for over seventeen years.  She had been friends with his wife, but had found in Capano everything she could desire.  Resisting at first, she finally gave in to his attentions, and he quickly figured out how to make her do anything he wanted...including having sex with other men so he could watch.

Capano was a controlling man and had nearly sent someone out to hurt another woman who'd ended their affair in 1977.  With Debbie, he'd instructed her in what she should say, how she should dress, and whom she should or shouldn't talk to.  They wrote letters back and forth, with Tom tearing her down and then reaffirming their relationship in a pattern of psychological manipulation.  Debbie always assured Capano of her undying love...that is, until she found out that she could be in serious trouble for perjury and lying on an ATF form.  Then she decided to turn state's witness, for which she got immunity.   She admitted that in May 1996, Capano had asked her to buy a gun for him, and she had done so reluctantly, spending her own money, which he never reimbursed.  That admission gave the state's stand on premeditation much more weight.

Capano had been furious at this betrayal.  He'd needed her to vouch for him and now she was giving him over to the enemy.  But he had a plan.  He could punish her and help himself at the same time.

His first move was to try to hire a convicted cocaine dealer, Tito Rosa from Gander Hill prison, to arrange to kill both Gerry and Debbie.  He offered Rosa $100,000.  This evidence was suppressed, but then Nick Perillo came forward and said that Capano had tried to hire him to burglarize MacIntyre's house.  He had a detailed map, drawn by Capano, which he'd turned over to his lawyers.

Ultimately, however, he pinned MacIntyre as Anne Marie's killer.  He urged his attorneys to try to force her to admit that she had come to his home on the night of June 27, 1996 with a gun and had used that gun.  They had consulted by phone together the next day about what to do with the body.  She vehemently denied this, but it was clear to the prosecution that Capano's team was trying to plant reasonable doubt by blaming a woman who'd have had a clear motive: jealousy.

It was Capano himself, however, who told the tale.  After fighting with his attorneys over 1) defending himself, and 2) taking the stand in his own defense, he finally settled for the latter, against everyone's advice.  Having won people over all of his life, Capano felt sure he could charm this jury with his manner and with the "truth."  His testimony and cross- examination lasted eight days.


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