judge dismisses appeal for medical parole of arsonist | News



BEVERLY – A Salem Superior Court judge has dismissed the medical parole appeal of James Carver, the man convicted of killing 15 people by setting fire to the Elliott Chambers rooming house in Beverly in 1984.

Carver, now 57, is serving 15 consecutive life sentences for second degree murder in the deaths. The victims included a young child. Carver was found guilty by a jury in Newburyport Superior Court five years after the fire.

Last year, Carver and his lawyer, citing a litany of health concerns, requested their release under the Medical Parole Act 2018.

State Corrections Commissioner Carol Mici denied the request, concluding that even if Carver suffers from health issues, they would not render him incapable of adopting similar behavior if released.

In a 16-page ruling released Thursday afternoon, Judge Jeffrey Karp said Mici’s findings were fully supported by the available evidence – including surveillance video of a confrontation between Carver and correctional officers in the establishment where was held in June 2020, under observation.

This video had been at the center of earlier arguments by Carver’s lawyer Sharon Sullivan-Puccini, who said prison officials distorted what the video portrayed in reports to Mici, who then relied on on these reports instead of the video itself to make its decision.

The lawyer convinced Judge Janice Howe to order last summer that Mici watch the video.

But after that, Mici maintained his previous decision.

Karp concluded that Sullivan-Puccini’s argument that Mici ignored the video was “without merit.”

The video, Karp discovered, “shows him struggling physically,” wrapping his legs around a correctional officer.

Carver is dependent on a wheelchair due to the dizziness, lightheadedness, tremors and seizures he has suffered since undergoing brain surgery, according to the ruling. He has a history of cardiovascular disease, has been treated for skin cancer, and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but refuses treatment.

Although he uses the wheelchair to get around, he still has the option of getting in and out on his own, showering, using the bathroom and dressing, the judge noted.

Carver also suffered from depression, which was why he was under mental health surveillance in June 2020, when this confrontation with officers attempting to strip the bed of sheets and pillows.

Karp said that although the evidence shows Carver suffers from a permanent disability of mobility, he has not presented any evidence showing that he is so weakened that he does not pose a risk to public safety if he is released.

Karp also dismissed the argument that it was wrong for Mici to view the underlying facts of the crime, which he called “horrific”, where Carver might be able to do the same.

“Fifteen innocent people died because Carver struck a match against a rooming house accelerator while they were sleeping,” Karp wrote. “There is nothing about Carver’s myriad of health issues, his reliance on a wheelchair for getting around or any other evidence that could indicate that this supports the idea” that Mici’s parole denial was abuse of discretion.

The judge acknowledged several procedural issues, including the failure of the Corrections Department to submit its own medical parole plan, as the 2018 law appears to require whenever an inmate requests release. But he concluded that was not enough to overturn Mici’s denial.

Carver could appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal.

Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis

Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis

Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis


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