Less than five years after his early release, McHugh was arrested in Virginia on interstate-drug-trafficking charges in January 2008. Now 32, McHugh was allegedly transporting five kilos of crack cocaine with his old East Cambridge pal Alfred Baldasaro, who, outside McHugh's arraignment in 1992, told reporters that he did not believe what the newspapers were saying about his friend. McHugh is still awaiting trial in Greensville County, Virginia, and his state-appointed attorney (who did not respond to several Phoenix interview requests) is reportedly arguing that troopers illegally searched his vehicle.

Velez, the most elusive of the three, has been off the map since his early release in 2004; attorneys and civilian advocates for Donovan have tried numerous attempts to locate him, with no success. In a 1996 motion asking to revise his sentence, Velez wrote: "In the wake of assistance in this matter I now must live within a world of coldness and great hate for anyone who assists the authorities. . . . I ask on behalf of myself, on plea of my family, who now resides in N.J., that it be within this honorable court's power to ease the constant suffering I now call my life."

Donovan's appeal was rejected on March 29, 1996. After more than five months of deliberation, defense claims of inadequate counsel and insufficient juror instructions were acknowledged, but did not warrant a reversal of Donovan's conviction. "Assault and battery is a lesser included offense of murder in the second degree and the jury should have been so instructed," wrote Assistant District Attorney for the Commonwealth Rosemary Daly Mellor. "The judge's failure to do so, however, did not result in a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice."

Though the Cambridge Chronicle reporter who exposed juror incompetence filed an affidavit with the Superior Court Department, the written testimony was not considered in the appeal process. The Commonwealth acknowledged that Velez "did not include several damaging facts concerning the defendant in his statements to police until just before trial," but decided that was also not enough to nullify the guilty verdict.

In 2000, Donovan was sent to the Departmental Disciplinary Unit (DDU) at the MCI-Walpole correctional facility following a physical altercation with another prisoner. He was later found to have acted in self-defense, but, due to mandatory procedure, still spent four years in solitary confinement awaiting his prison hearing. Four months after his 2004 re-admittance to the general population, he returned to DDU again following another scuffle, only to be re-released after it was found that he acted to protect a correctional officer.

This March, Donovan was relocated to the medium-security facility at the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater. He's not thrilled about having a prison roommate for the first time, but is now able to have physical contact with relatives and loved ones. His mother, who recently lost her second husband, visits often, as does his father, a Vietnam veteran who is retired from the phone company. Donovan also frequently sees advocates, including his attorney uncle, Jack, and his great aunt, Carol Hallisey, who helped build the Web site supportjoedonovan.org to solicit public sympathy.

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