MIAMI, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A Florida judge sentenced a former FBI agent to 40 years in prison Thursday for murder, while suggesting that he has strong grounds for an appeal.
The judge dismissed a motion by John Connolly's lawyers to reverse his conviction on the grounds that the statute of limitations had passed, The Miami Herald reported. But the ruling was on technical grounds -- that the lawyers had missed a deadline to file their motion -- and allows an appeals court to act.
Manny Casabielle, a defense lawyer, said Connolly is a "free man."
Connolly was a hard-charging FBI agent in Boston in the 1970s and 1980s. An investigation later determined he had been protecting mob boss Whitey Bulgur and other criminal leaders, and he was convicted on federal racketeering charges.
The Florida case involves the 1982 shooting death of John Callahan, a World Jai-Alai executive, whose body was left in the trunk of a car at the Miami airport. Callahan was killed after Connolly told Bulgur's Winter Hill gang he might cooperate in a federal investigation.
Connolly was tried and convicted last year for second-degree murder. But under Florida law in 1982, the statute of limitations for second-degree murder was four years.
Prosecutors argued that because Connolly was carrying his service weapon when he met with the gang he was using a weapon, voiding the statute of limitations.