Trial to Start in Once-Cold Case of ’88 Slaying

BOSTON, March 20, 2013—Jury selection has begun for the trial of a man accused of murder in the 1988 strangulation death of 20-year-old Janet Phinney in West Roxbury.

Thirteen jurors have been seated and three more remain to be empanelled for the trial of MICHAEL COKER (D.O.B. 7/3/62), formerly of Hyde Park. Coker is charged with first-degree murder.

Phinney was last seen by family members at her Cedar Road home on March 18, 1988. Her remains were discovered by a neighbor a few days later on March 21 in a wooded area behind her home. She had been strangled to death.

Coker was charged in 2011 after renewed forensic testing was undertaken with the benefit of 21st century DNA technology unavailable at the time of Phinney’s death.

Assistant District Attorneys Mark Hallal and Lynn Feigenbaum of the DA’s Senior Trial Unit are trying the case trying the case. Katherine Moran is the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Coker is represented by attorney Norman Zalkind. The jury selection process is ongoing before Judge Jeffrey Locke in courtroom 906 of Suffolk Superior Court.


All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.