Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
(CBS) What do you do if you find out your best friends
got away with murder? That's the question a young man
faced in 2002, when a friend confided in him that the
death of an elderly woman, ruled an accident, was
actually a case of murder.
As correspondent Susan Spencer reports, he had to make a
tough choice: keep his silence or betray his friends by
contacting the police.
Twenty-two-year-old Jim Morel admits that what he used
to consider good music certainly isnít everyoneís cup of
tea. A few years ago, his compositions were designed to
shock, as was his band.
"The name of my band was Electronic Kill Machine," Morel
explains. "The music was disturbing. It was a little on
the aggressive side. But at the same time it was all in
good fun; nobody was really ever got hurt from it."
He says it simply reflected the attitude of his crowd.
"At the time we thought we were untouchable, (could) do
whatever we wanted and there was not going to be any
sort of consequences for any of our actions," Morel
He and his friends grew up in Norton, Mass., a working
class town near Boston. His best friend was Jason Weir,
who played drums in his band. Morel remembers Jason as
being a little "rebellious" and "a little bit more
Another close friend, Anthony Calabro, was ó informally
ó the manager. And Tom Lally, who was a little older,
just liked to hang out, eager to fit in.
"Tom is a funny guy. Heís a really, really funny guy,"
Morel says. "Which made it hard to fear Tom. But he
wanted to be feared ó kind of a tough-guy thing. But he
was Ė it's more of a goofy, just all-around-looking to
go out and have a good time."
Their backgrounds made the four a perfect fit. "Whether
it was a broken home or a troubled childhood, we were
all just a little different, and thatís why we really
kind of just came together in this group of social
misfits in some way or another and we became kind of our
own family," Morel explains.
In the summer of 2001, Anthony Calabro ó then at odds
with both parents ó left Norton and moved into the
Quincy, Mass., home of his 84-year-old great aunt,
His aunt Donna Strassell was happy to hear the news.
"The truth is, I thought it was the best thing for him.
To be with aunt Marina. Because aunt Marina had morals,
rules," she says.
Marina only had recently retired as a hairdresser. She
had never married or had children of her own, and she
doted on Calabro like a favored son, dipping into her
savings to support him. She says he got whatever he
Whenever they pleased, Marina even let Anthonyís friends
crash at her house ó which, at 84, she still maintained
But just days before Christmas 2001, Marina Calabroís
independent life came to tragic end. At about 11 p.m.
Anthony called the police to report that he and Lally
had come home and found her dead, lying at the bottom of
The police took photos but more or less as routine, they
believed Marina Calabro had taken a terrible fall while
carrying a bag of trash. The medical examiner soon
confirmed that the death was an accident.
"Anthony was upset. He became more quiet, I think more
to himself," Morel remembers.
Even in death, Marina Calabro took care of her beloved
great nephew: Her will left Anthony half of her estate,
which consisted of her $500,000 house and another
half-million dollars or so that she had squirreled away
over the years.
Once Anthony got the money, Morel says, he was very
generous. "We could buy, do whatever we wanted," he
recalls. "If we wanted to go nuts with anything, we
So they did. They went nuts with new equipment for the
band and even made a CD.
"We were on the verge of some pretty promising
opportunities coming our way," Morel remembers. "We had
a pretty good following."
But that all ended abruptly on Oct. 13, 2002, nearly 10
months after Anthonyís aunt died.
Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
Morel and his best friend, Jason Weir, were at a
restaurant, chatting about Anthonyís spending, when
Jason offhandedly dropped a bombshell.
"He said, Marina Calabro didnít exactly die on her own,"
Jim was still reeling from the shock of that news when
48 Hours first spoke with him three months later. "I
just kinda sat there. Iím like, 'Well, what do you
mean?' Like ó oh. Heís like ĎTom beat her to death.í I
was just like that was pretty shocking," he says.
"He said, Tom Lally beat her with a frying pan. And in
my mind, Iím picturing my grandmother. Iím like, someone
is doing this to your grandmother Ė I donít know," Morel
Did Morel ask Weir what he was doing at the time?
"Thatís what I asked. Iím like, 'What were you doing?
What involvement did you have?' And he said, 'I was just
freaked out,'" he says.
Morel says Anthony was downstairs waiting in the car.
"He was kinda keeping a lookout," he says. He knew his
friends werenít angels ó but would they, and could they,
really murder an 84-year-old woman?
"Itís like a friend you grew up with and itís like such
a horrific thing," he says,
Asked why he thinks Weir suddenly decided to tell him,
Morel says, "Because he had a lot of trust in me." That
trust left Morel panicked over what to do: betray his
friends or protect their terrible secret?
"Holding on to a secret like that would completely
change who you are," Morel says. "It eats at you. It is
someone that did not deserve to die."
That same night, Morel told his father ó and together
they went to the police to report to the murder.
He had no idea what he was in for.
"I was thinking I was going to do this all anonymously,
no one would ever know anything about me ó walk in, walk
out, and I did my part and I wouldnít have to do
anything," Morel explains.
To his surprise, the police seemed to suspect him.
Indignant, he volunteered to wear a wire, convinced he
could get Weir to confide again.
To his even greater surprise, the police liked the idea.
Three days later, Morel was wired and braced to betray
In October 2002, the two were doing what they had done a
thousand times before: just driving around Norton and
hanging out. But this time Jim was wearing a wire,
secretly pumping his friend for details of Marina
Calabroís murder ó and he was feeling very guilty about
"Hereís a guy that feels so close and so confident
telling you and youíre just gonna go right around and
stab him in the back," Morel says.
Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
Detectives followed in an unmarked car, recording every
word of what turned out to be a chilling tale of murder.
On the tape, Weir claimed he was paralyzed with shock
when he saw Lally suddenly attack the 84-year-old woman
with a frying pan and could only stand there and watch
as she fought for her life.
On the wire recording Weir told Morel that Lally bashed
Marina in the face with a tea kettle and that the
killing took 10 to 15 minutes. Repeatedly, Weir told
Morel that although Lally did it, once the deed was
done, he had no choice but to help cover it up.
"He's like, 'You got to help me.' I'm like, 'I can't
believe you [expletive] did that.' He said, 'It needed
to be done. We all want a better life. We all want this
house. We all need this. So we're in it together,'"
And he matter-of-factly boasted that their extensive
knowledge of forensics really had paid off.
"They were really into the forensic stuff," Morel
explains. "They would watch three-hour blocks of
forensic files. There would be hours and hours on the
computer studying case files."
Morel says Weir and Lally carried Marina Calabro down
the steps and positioned her body so it would look like
she had taken a fall.
Throughout the whole thing, Weir said, Anthony was
keeping watch outside.
Morel kept Weir talking. When asked if Anthony was upset
by the murder, Weir told Morel, "No."
The longer Weir talked, the more disgusted Morel became,
especially when he described Marina Calabroís final
"She was screaming for Anthonyís name ó she said,
'Anthony. Anthony. Help me. Help me.' And Iím like,
'What did Tom do?' And heís like he just got real close
to her and squeezed her and he just whispered in her ear
Marina," Morel recalls.
"Just go, just go. Anthony wants it this way, just go,"
Weir could be heard saying on the wire recording.
After that admission, Morel says he no longer felt guilt
about snitching on his friends. "Instead of feeling bad,
instead of feeling guilty, I wanted nothing more than
just to lash out and say, 'How could you just stand
there and watch this?'" he says. "So I just said to
myself, Iím gonna screw you so unbelievably. And I said,
'So where are the murder weapons?'"
Weir suddenly swerved off the road into a dark wooded
area by Meadowbrook Pond and showed him.
It had been several hours, but Morel's ordeal finally
Nine days after that harrowing ride, police took
19-year-old Anthony Calabro, 17-year-old Jason Weir, and
21-year-old Thomas Lally, into custody. All were charged
with first-degree murder. A conviction would mean a life
Jason father, Rick Weir, heard about his sonís arrest on
the news. "Iím just starting to cry all over the place.
Every time I saw it, I get the same feeling. You know,
thereís nothing I could do for him ," he recalls. "At
that point. I couldnít get near him, I couldnít touch
him, I couldnít help him."
And despite the evidence, the father is standing by his
son, convinced that he didnít actually do anything to
harm Marina Calabro.
Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
But Tom Lally, Tom's uncle, doesnít buy Weir's story at
all, especially not the part about Jason being the
bystander and his nephew the murderer.
Lally always has been close to his sisterís oldest son,
who was named after him.
"I would describe Tom as a follower. And in this
particular situation ó he was the follower. And he
believed in his friends and wanted to be with his
friends," Lally explains.
He may have run with the wrong crowd, Lally says, but
Tom couldnít possibly murder anyone. And he makes sure
his nephew knows he at least believes him.
"Heís allowed two visits a week, and I always try to
take one of those visits," Lally says.
Tom has insisted that it was Jason Weir who committed
"Do you believe that Jason Weirís story is right, but
that the roles were switched?" Spencer asks Tom Lally.
"Yes," Lally replies. "I believe that Tom got caught up
in something that became too big and he didnít know how
to get out."
But Assistant District Attorney Susan Corcoran says when
the state got the case, it believed the three friends
carefully plotted the murder together. The only problem
was proving it.
"Tom Lally and Anthony knew that he was going to inherit
a substantial amount of money," Corcoran says. "They
knew he was going to inherit this house from her. I
think they were cold-blooded killers, and they did not
want to wait for her to die."
It has been more than two years since Morel went to the
police, two years since his information led to murder
charges against his three closest pals.
"It felt like I just ó I just killed my best friends,"
While people will say he did the right thing, Morel says
not feeling bad about this is "easier said than done."
Weir, Anthony Calabro and Lally sit behind bars, waiting
to be tried for the death of 84-year-old Marina Calabro.
Their arrests put an abrupt end to those carefree days
of hanging out and playing in the band.
Marina Calabroís niece Donna is glad Morel came forward,
but she thinks the cops shouldnít have needed to be told
this was no accident.
"I know it was murder. I had no doubt in my mind. None,"
She had visited her aunt in the weeks before she died
and says it was obvious Marinaís world was in disarray.
"The house was not like Aunt Marina keeps it," Donna
explains. "It wasnít normal, it was wrong. It was just
Anthony, the nephew she doted on had become surly and
"I saw the way Anthony was treating Aunt Marina," Donna
says, maintaining he was being disrespectful, swearing
and yelling at her.
Marina was so frightened, Donna says, that she began to
hide her money. "She would put it in a nylon stocking
and wrap it around her waist when sheíd go to bed at
night," she says.
"I told Aunt Marina that she was in great danger," Donna
recalls. "And she said that if anything happened to her
sheíd call 911. I told her, 'Youíll never get the
chance.' I just knew."
As soon as she heard about Marinaís death, Donna says
she was suspicious and went to the police with her
But she says they showed little interest. "I think the
police should be held accountable for doing such a
terrible non-caring investigation. Thatís the way I
feel. They took it as an old woman who fell down the
stairs. And let it go," she says.
Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
Corcoran concedes investigatorsí mistakes early on made
it much harder to build a case.
She knew she had to overcome a lot of issues when she
received the case ó the biggest one being the police
reports. "The state police had declared it an accident.
The Quincy police had declared it an accident, and the
medical examiner had declared this an accident," she
So even though detectives on the scene noticed scratches
on Lallyís face, they didnít bother taking pictures,
instead simply accepting the boysí explanation.
"They said that the night before they had an argument
because Anthony had been drinking or something to that
effect. And Tom tried to grab the bottle from him and
Anthony scratched tomís face," Corcoran says.
Ten months later, by the time police knew they were
investigating a murder, not only had the scratches
healed, Marina Calabroís house had been sold and the
kitchen remodeled. Corcoran says it was too late for the
crime scene folks to go back and do any type of testing.
Thus, although Corcoran had Jim Morelís secretly
recorded tapes, she initially had little else. "They
were very good at covering their tracks. They tried to
conceal the crime when she was found at the foot of the
stairs," she explains. "They covered everything up, they
cleaned everything up at the crime scene that night."
When police drained the pond where Weir had taken Morel,
they did find the frying pan Ė believed to be the murder
weapon Ė and it was right there where Weir said it would
be. Also found were remnants of newspapers from the week
of the crime and Marinaís tea kettle.
"This was a very, very heinous crime. It was committed
with a frying pan and with a tea kettle," Corcoran says.
But Weir's attorney, Ed McCormick, says not so fast.
"Iím sure we can go to any pond, in any area, weíre
going to find some debris," he says.
He thinks that after 10 months in the pond, frying pans
and tea kettles arenít evidence.
"Thereís no fingerprints to tie anyone to this,"
The state, McCormick charges, has been all too eager to
jump to wild conclusions to make up for evidence it
doesnít have. He points to a bizarre discovery at the
crime lab, which at one point said it actually had found
DNA on Marina Calabroís body: in seminal fluid.
"The question, obviously, is whoís is it? How did it get
there?" McCormick asks.
The lab took DNA samples from the three suspects, even
It didnít match him ó and to make matters worse for the
state, it didnít match the three suspects either.
"It calls into question the entire version of the death
of Marina Calabro as alleged by the Commonwealth,"
McCormick suggests Weirís damning admissions on tape as
just typical adolescent swagger.
"Is this just two 16-, 17-year-old boys are talking big?
Who caught the biggest fish? Who has the prettiest
girlfriend? Who has the fastest car? Let me tell you
something thatíll shock you. And make myself feel tough.
I donít know," he says.
(Page 6 of 9)Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
Lallyís lawyer, Robert Griffin, says that in his
clientís case, the alleged motive ó greed ó makes no
"Thomas Lally had an annuity that was going to pay him
money every five years. He received his first payment in
June of 2001," Griffin says,
Anthony Calabroís lawyer, Bob Launie, says that when
Anthony wanted money, all he had to do was ask. "He was
getting anything he wanted from her," he explains.
Launie says they maintain that Marina Calabro's death
just an accident and not part of any criminal activity.
Donna would so like to believe that. "I wish to God it
wasnít Anthony," she says crying. "More than anything I
wished it wasnít Anthony, but it is."
As the state prepares to go to trial, its star witness
is ready to face his former friends in court.
Tom Lallyís lawyer says his client, the first up, is
terrified. "He goes home or he goes to prison for the
rest of his life with no possibility of parole," Griffin
By March 3, 2006, Tom Lally has changed dramatically in
the more than four years since Marina Calabro died. He
was the first of the three defendants to stand trial for
"Heís nervous, heís gotta get up there and tell his
story, this is the fight of his life," says his uncle,
who has been by his side throughout. "For the last four
years Iíve been doing everything I could to keep Tom
going and just really try to be positive,"
But in Prosecutor Corcoranís eyes, Lally is a cold
"This defendant strikes her on the head with a frying
pan," she tells jurors. "Whacking her as she was
screaming for her life."
Corcoran makes sure the jury knows that this slight
young man before them bears little resemblance to the
swaggering tough he once was.
"He weighed 220 pounds. He was bald," she tells jurors.
"He may have looked tough. But Tomís never been a tough
kid. You know, I would say the exact opposite," says
Lally's uncle. He describes his nephew as a caring boy,
close to his mother, saddled with learning disabilities,
and struggling with a mild case of Tourette's Syndrome.
He thinks that in the end, the state canít prove its
case ó and for sure, the state has problems.
As defense attorney Griffin points out, not only is
there the medical examinerís initial ruling but the DNA
supposedly found on Marinaís body turned out to be one
big embarrassment for the state. Further testing showed
it wasnít from seminal fluid after all. And, worse, it
came from the lab worker who did the testing.
Still, as much as the defense discredits the early
investigation, this is a story of loyalty and betrayal
and the prosecutionís case relies less on forensic
evidence than on the testimony of Lallyís friends, or
They canít seem to bare their souls fast enough,
offering chilling testimony about how Anthony and Tom
used to talk about Marina Calabro.
"Tom was saying that he could have her neck broken
without leaving any bruises," one female witness
"'Wouldnít it be funny if we pushed her down the stairs
and got her money,'Ē another witness testifies she
The one friend not called to testify was Morel, whose
undercover taping unraveled the entire plot.
Instead the state produces a new key witness, someone
who was actually there: Weir.
Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
Betrayed by Morel back in 2002 ó he is, now, in turn,
betraying his friends: In exchange for his testimony, he
agreed to plead to manslaughter and take a 10-year
Weir tells the jurors that he heard Tom and Anthony plot
the crime. "Anthony would say something along the lines
of, 'I should take a contract out on her.' And Tom Lally
would say, 'Well, it could be arranged,' or, you know ó
'What if something was to happen to her, and you just
didnít know about it?'" Weir testifies.
He claims he never took it seriously ó until that moment
he and Marina stood in the kitchen and Tom walked in
with a frying pan.
He recalls for the jury what he witnessed in the
kitchen. "She says, 'What are you doing with my pan?'"
Weir testifies. "He was just like, 'Iím doing this.' And
as I looked up to see the ó this frying pan came
literally right across my face. I could feel the breeze
off of it."
Asked what he remembers happened next, Jason tells the
jurors, "He hit her in the ó in the head with a pan."
Marina kept struggling, Weir says, and then Lally
grabbed a tea kettle.
"She was terrified. She was screaming. She was yelling,
calling for Anthony, calling for anything," Weir
Asked if he helped Marina Calabro, Weir says he did not,
saying he couldn't react and was "too afraid."
When it was over, Weir says, and Anthony had come
inside, Lally kept his cool.
"He had said, 'I put her head at the bottom of the
stairs so that way itíll look like itís all
legitimate,'" Jason testifies.
But Defense Attorney Griffin says Weir would say
anything to save himself and he reminds jurors how cocky
he was when he confided to Morel.
However, whatever the jury may think of Jasonís callous
words on the wire recording, the state finally has some
forensic evidence to bolster his story. In 2005,
prosecutor Corcoran had Marinaís fingernail clippings
tested by another lab. It found DNA, which, while not
conclusive, is a partial match to Tom Lally.
Corcoran says the DNA underneath the fingernails could
be from Lally and that it excluded the other two
"So it's very consistent, we had the fingernail
scrapings and fingernail clippings from Marina Calabro
and the scratch marks on Thomas Lallyís face," Corcoran
Lallyís uncle believes the DNA got under Marinaís nails
when his nephew tried to help her ó but he knows things
look bad. "You just gotta keep him thinking strong and
thinking positive and get him back in the game," he
Seemingly backed into a corner, Lally takes the stand in
his own defense.
On the stand, he says, "I had nothing to do with
Marinaís death. Jason Weir killed her."
Just switch the roles, Lally says: Jason was the killer
and it was Jason who took him by surprise that horrible
Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
"Jason Weir came out of the dining room with a sock on
his right hand. He was holding a frying pan. And he
struck Marina Calabro in the head with it," Lally
Next, Lally testified that he tried to help her by
getting in between them, but she had fallen to the floor
Lally also tells the jurors the scratches on his face
were inflicted by Weir.
It was Weir, Lally says, who staged the scene. "He
dragged her body to the stairs and placed her at the
bottom of the landing," he testifies.
And then, he says, Weir bullied both him and Anthony
into lying to the police.
"What was the reason you were afraid of him, Mr. Lally?"
defense attorney Griffin asks Lally.
"I saw him kill Marina Calabro, and he was threatening
me and my family," he replies.
Corcoran doesnít hide her disgust at this story.
"Iím asking you when Jason Weir came into that kitchen,
which is a small kitchen, from that living room, you
couldnít see that frying pan in his hand? You want the
jurors to believe that?" Corcoran asks Lally.
"Yes, maíam. When he raised his hand is when I saw it.
That was when I took notice of it," he replies.
He testifies that he did not hear Marina Calabro yell
during the attack.
"She was struck three times with a cast iron frying pan
and you did not hear Marina Calabro yelling, Mr. Lally?"
"It was in very rapid succession and it was notÖ," he
Lally maintains he did not hear Calabro scream.
Corcoran was very tough on Lally. "I think I had to be.
I think I had to be tough on him. I firmly believe that
he was the one who committed this crime," she says.
Lally's uncle, meanwhile, says he was proud of his
nephew. "Heís been waiting four years to tell his story,
his side of the story. It was important for him to be
heard. But it was also difficult."
With the case in the juryís hands, Tomís mother and
uncle can only wait.
And after only four hours, Lally is found guilty of
first-degree murder. The sentence: life without parole.
"I ó truly ó prayed every night and every day for the
last four years for something else," Lally's uncle says.
"The raw emotion just came out."
The fate of Anthony Calabro, the plot's alleged
mastermind, has yet to be decided.
"Iíve got a case where Iíve got a client whoís not in
the room," defense attorney Launie says.
And that means, his lawyer says, despite the Lally
verdict, he could still win his case. "Thereís a lot of
different ways it could have went down that my client
didnít necessarily have to know about."
(Page 9 of 9)Sept. 30, 2006
Jim Morel (CBS)
As hard as Donna Strassell finds it to accept the loss
of her Aunt Marina, itís even harder to accept that her
own nephew, Anthony, was behind the murder.
"I love him, heís my nephew," she says. "But he needs to
be held accountable. And he needs to take responsibility
"Marina Calabro adored her great nephew, Anthony Calabro,"
Corcoran says in court.
But Anthony betrayed his great auntís love, Corcoran
adds, and with appalling callousness. "She put up a
fight. She fought for her life. It took a while for this
woman to die. And she was screaming for great nephew to
come in and help her," she tells jurors.
By the time Anthony Calabro finally has his day in
court, four years have passed since his aunt's death.
Unlike his friends, Anthony never gave a statement to
police and tearfully breaks his 3Ĺ-year silence.
"Iím disgusted with myself. Iím disgusted with my
actions," Anthony says. "I donít even think there are
any words in the English language that can explain how
sorry I am for everything that Iíve done."
Having seen Lally convicted, and hit with life without
parole, Anthony is now no longer proclaiming his
"It's my sincerest wish that I could go back in time and
undo the events of that day. I only hope that some day I
might be able to be forgiven for all that Iíve done,"
His confession comes only after the stateís decision to
offer him a deal: plead guilty to a lesser charge of
Corcoran reminds the court one last time what he did, in
every horrific detail.
"When the defendant entered the apartment, he saw that
the victim was dead, shrugged and left," she tells the
Anthony no longer denies any of it and as he is led
away, his aunt Donna almost seems relieved.
"When he spoke today his actions, his words, he was my
nephew. With sincerity and caring," Donna says, adding
that he accepted responsibility.
The agreed-on sentence, life in prison with the
possibility of parole in 12 years, is a vastly different
fate than that of his former friends.
Weir could be out of prison in fewer than seven years
but Lally will spend the rest of his life there with no
possibility of parole.
"Three people who all equally shared responsibility in
the crime, all get different punishments," says Lally's
uncle. "That just doesnít seem fair to me."
But all Lally's distraught uncle can do is to promise to
be there for his nephew. "It may not be the life that we
would want anybody to have, but thereís a life. And
thereís a relationship. And thereís love. And you keep
that going," he says.
"I believe they all had involvement. They never would
have done a job like this unless everybody knew about,
everybody was willing to take part in it," says Morel,
the fourth friend, who at 19, put truth over loyalty and
went to the police.
"This case would be nowhere without Jim Morel," says
Morel. "These three kids could have gone on the rest of
their lives and gotten away with this murder."
And yet, even today, his choice makes Morel uneasy.
"Their lives are kind of ruined now. You know, they
destroyed one life, you know, and I still feel Ė even
now, after everything, I kinda feel like I kinda
destroyed three," he says.
Morel is still writing music, now a little less dark and
has a job and a hopeful future.
And if he were to find himself today in that same
"Itís not the easiest thing to do in the world, but I
had no choice," he says.
Morel says he would do it again.
Weirís plea negotiations recently have been reopened.
His final sentence is not yet decided. Lally may file a
motion for a new trial.