Prosecutors push back in Tuttle St. slay case

Suffolk County prosecutors said this week there is no physical evidence to support a Savin Hill defendant's claim that a third man was involved in the January 2008 stabbing of a 20-year-old hair stylist at the defendant's Tuttle St. apartment.

"Suggesting otherwise indicates a misunderstanding of the evidence or a misrepresentation of the evidence," said Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.

In a 15-page filing in Superior Court, prosecutors with Conley's office pushed back against defendant Steven Odegard's claim that prosecutors had misled a grand jury, introducing improper testimony and holding other testimony back. Odegard was indicted by a grand jury in December and has been held without bail at the Nashua St. jail after pleading not guilty to the charge of killing Daniel Yakovleff of Roxbury.

An attorney for Odegard, Eric Tennen, said prosecutors were "twisting the facts to fit their theory." He and fellow attorney John Swomley are pushing for a dismissal of the indictment.

Tennen said they plan to respond to the prosecutors' filing. The trial is expected to start in December.

Tennen noted that the grand jury had asked prosecutors last September for an additional DNA test "“a mouth swab "“ of a man who had been with Yakovleff earlier in the evening of the murder and Odegard claims was in the apartment that night. Prosecutors declined the request, saying it was unnecessary.

Defense attorneys for Odegard have argued that the three men left The Eagle bar on Tremont St. together, returning to Odegard's apartment at 56 Tuttle St. According to court documents, Odegard has said he started to have sex with Yakovleff, then later he let Yakovleff and the third man use his bedroom for sex. He awoke the next morning to find Yakovleff with multiple stab wounds to his torso and back, and the third man gone.

Boston police investigators had interviewed the man that Yakovleff had been with earlier that evening, who said that he and Yakovleff met for drinks and dinner but parted before 11:30 p.m., according to the prosecutors' filing, which added that food and drink receipts "appear to support [his] general time line."

Police also showed a picture of the man to Odegard amid a photo array, and though Odegard paused when looking at it, he could not positively identify him as the third man.

Prosecutors also point to two rounds of DNA testing performed in the course of the investigation. The tests found the DNA samples came from Yakovleff, Odegard, and another man who Yakovleff had sex with the night before the murder after meeting him at The Eagle bar.

"Not only has the defendant failed to show that the Commonwealth knowingly presented false and deceptive evidence, he has failed to present any evidence that the Commonwealth did so knowingly and for the purpose of obtaining an indictment," wrote Mark Lee, an assistant district attorney with Conley.

Lee also pushed back against a number of other claims made by Odegard's attorneys.

The attorneys had argued that during grand jury testimony of Eagle bar employees, prosecutors attempted to prejudice the jury against Odegard by noting that he had hired an attorney after the murder.

But prosecutors said they mentioned Odegard's attorney because Swomley had injected himself into the case by conducting his own investigation and going to the Eagle to interview witnesses.

"Here, the mere mention that defendant was represented by counsel, a fact that was elicited due to counsel's own conduct in the investigation, did not pose the kind of "˜serious risk of prejudice' to defendant where other facts presented to the Grand Jury independently established probable cause," Lee wrote.