State Supreme Court Upholds Conviction; Murder Suspect to Remain Behind Bars

Thursday, April 12, 2012
By Joe Domelowicz

Winthrop police and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office announced this week that the twice convicted suspect in a 1995 Winthrop murder was denied his final appeals last week by the State Supreme Judicial Court and will remain behind bars on his latest conviction, bringing an end to the case which has dragged on for 17 years.

William LaPage, now 59 years old, has been convicted of the stabbing death of his girlfriend, 33-year old Sharilee Banks, in her Washington Avenue apartment.

“For the families left behind, an appeal can reopen wounds that never fully heal,” DA Conley said. “In a case like, tried to convictions twice but still active with motions for new trials and appellate review, loved ones might ask themselves when it will ever end. At last, we can say with confidence: it ends here.”

According to a statement by the District Attorney’s office, LaPage was first convicted in 1997, when a Suffolk Superior Court Jury found him guilty of first degree murder and flatly rejected his claims of self-defense, when he fatally stabbed and slashed Banks in the neck, stomach, face, wrists and hands during an argument over money. Jurors found LaPage guilty under the theories of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty.

However, LaPage successfully convinced the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) to overturn that conviction based on the presiding judge’s flawed instruction to the jury on voluntary manslaughter. The SJC overturned the conviction in 2001 and remanded the case for a new trial.

In 2005, LaPage was again found guilty by a jury, this time on a charge of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced on the basis of that conviction.

However, LaPage had moved to have a third trial, claiming that his attorney in the 2005 proceeding should have introduced the victim’s criminal history in support of his claim that she was the initial aggressor. A Suffolk Superior Court Judge disagreed in 2010 and the SJC’s recent ruling upheld that 2010 ruling against the request for a new trial, effectively exhausting LaPage’s appeals in the case.

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