Toolan Murder Conviction Upheld By State Supreme Judicial Court

Jason Graziadei •

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The state's high court has upheld the murder conviction of Thomas Toolan in the 2004 murder of Elizabeth Lochtefeld on Nantucket.

Toolan, 55, was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Lochtefeld in her cottage on Hawthorne Lane 18 years ago. In the second appeal of his conviction, Toolan's attorneys raised challenges to the instructions jurors received, but on Friday the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected those arguments, upholding the verdict and Toolan's life sentence.

After briefly dating Toolan in the fall of 2004, Lochtefeld broke off the relationship with the former Wall Street worker who was raised in Brooklyn. But on Oct. 25, 2004, Toolan booked a flight to Nantucket, bought two knives on the island, and proceeded to find Lochtefeld in her secluded cottage and fatally stabbed her multiple times. Toolan fled the island, but was arrested in Rhode Island.

As the first murder on Nantucket in more than two decades, the case garnered national attention. The trial in Nantucket Superior Court in 2007 was covered by some of the country's largest news outlets, and became the subject of several documentaries. Following the guilty verdict, Toolan's conviction was reversed on appeal in 2011 by the Supreme Judicial Court, which cited flaws in the jury selection.

The second trial in 2013 also ended with a guilty verdict, and Toolan has remained incarcerated throughout the appeal process.

The SJC noted "(t)he Commonwealth's case was very strong, and throughout the trial, the jury heard extensive evidence concerning the defendant's premeditated intent." The court ruled that the claims made by Toolan's defense attorneys regarding jury instructions "did not rise to the level of prejudicial error," the Cape and Island's District Attorney's office said in its announcement of the SJC decision.

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