Jury convicts bank robber in slaying of police officer

By PAUL A. BASKEN  |  May 17, 1989
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BOSTON -- Ted Jeffrey Otsuki, on the FBI's Most Wanted List for nearly a year, was convicted of murdering a police officer who accidentally stumbled upon him in an alley.

The sequestered Suffolk Superior Court panel returned seven guilty verdicts, including first-degree murder, against the convicted bank robber late Tuesday afternoon following nearly 11 hours of deliberations.

Judge Robert Mulligan, saying the evidence against him was 'beyond overwhelming,' immediately sentenced Otsuki to a mandatory life term in prison without parole.

Otsuki, 36, was accused of gunning down officer Roy Sergei, 42, and wounding officer Jorge Torres after mistakenly believing the policemen were chasing him from his apartment in the Back Bay section on Oct. 2, 1987.

Sergei and Torres had gone into the alley to check an unrelated report of a domestic dispute, police said.

Otsuki was on parole at the time from the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan., where he was sentenced to 15 years on bank robbery charges. He was also wanted for possession of explosives he allegedly intended to use in bank robberies in San Francisco.

Otsuki, who claimed he had left the city before the shooting, was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List for nearly 11 months after the shooting before being apprehended in Mexico.

Mulligan called Otsuki's testimony in his own defense 'a pathetic attempt to explain the situation.'

'The evidence in this case was beyond overwhelming,' the judge said before sentencing Otsuki to the state's maximum security prison in Walpole.

'We hope Mary Ellen Sergei (the officer's widow) and her family will take some comfort in this,' said Commissioner Francis Roache. 'You cannot murder police officers and shoot them down like dogs. This also shows the American public supports the police.

'He is an evil man who was cold and calculating,' Roache said of Otsuki.

Sergei's wife said she was satisfied with the life sentence.

'I think it's enough,' she said. 'I'm not for the death penalty. I think living (in prison) is a lot harder than dying.'

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