A Superior Court judge has ruled that statements from two men, now dead, can be admitted in the murder trial of Edward Grant.
Grant, 58, is accused of killing Concetta “Penney” Serra, a 21-year-old New Haven woman fatally stabbed 28 years ago in a downtown parking garage.
Grant was arrested in 1999 after police matched his fingerprint from a 1997 domestic violence charge to a fingerprint on a tissue box in Serra’s car.
But Grant’s defense attorneys say statements made by Serra’s father, John Serra and Chris Fagan, the garage attendant, implicate another suspect.
“It is unquestionable that John Serra (or Fagan), if alive, would have testified in this case,” writes Thomas Ullmann, the public defender, in a motion filed last week. “Given the unique circumstances of this case, namely the prosecution of a defendant whose arrest took place some 26 years following the murder, common sense must prevail in the submission of evidence which would otherwise be lost forever.”
Grant’s attorneys said they believe the statement will implicate another man, an Albanian immigrant, in the July 16, 1973 crime. Authorities have twice applied for warrants in the mid-1990s to arrest that man, but two Superior Court judges refused to sign them, citing lack of evidence.
Grant’s lawyers said John Serra, who died in 1998, offered statements that the suspect’s dental bills were found in his car the day his daughter was killed. He told investigators the bills had not been under the sun visor when he lent Penney his Buick that day.
Fagan, the garage attendant, told police he took a bloody parking ticket from a man who appeared injured on his left side. He asked if he could help, but the man responded “No, thanks,” in a distinctively foreign accent and drove off. The New Haven Register reported Sunday that the man whose dental records were found has a long scar on his left hand.
That man has never been accused of any crime and professed his innocence when he became a suspect in 1994. Prosecutors have argued that DNA samples taken from Grant most closely match the blood found on the scene.
Grant has maintained that he was at his cabin in Vermont at the time of the slaying.