Judge: State is ‘slowly killing’ quadriplegic murderer


August 15, 2019
Worcester Telegram
Brad Petrishen

WORCESTER – A federal judge has ordered a quadriplegic convicted murderer released from state prison, opining that the state Department of Correction is “neither able nor willing” to provide for his dire medical needs.

“Massachusetts does not recognize capital punishment, yet the (DOC) is, through its lack of treatment of his quadriplegia and its complications, slowly killing him,” U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman wrote of inmate Timothy M. Reaves.

Mr. Reaves was paralyzed at age 29 in a 1994 crash while fleeing police after the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy in New Bedford. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1996, at which time the cost to taxpayers of confining him already approached $1 million.

Mr. Reaves has now been in custody an additional 24 years. It is unclear how much the state has spent to confine him, as the DOC, in response to queries, has said it does not track spending on individual inmates.

What is clear, Judge Hillman ruled, is that the state has violated Mr. Reaves’ constitutional rights by failing to provide him adequate medical care.

Mr. Reaves filed a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional treatment in 2016 through Prisoners’ Legal Services.

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