Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey at Dean College

The first slide of Lt. Brian Tully’s PowerPoint filled the two large screens within the Guidrey Center on Thursday evening. Before transitioning to the second slide, the commander of the homicide unit attached to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office harped on the importance of even the tiniest details.

Then he asked the students, faculty and community members to focus on the slide a moment longer - something was wrong.

A student shouted out that the word “homicide” was spelled incorrectly.

“You get extra credit,” Tully said with a nod.

It was one of the many lessons presented by Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey’s office during the latest Dean Leadership Institute speaker series. Tully joined Morrissey as well as Norfolk First Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland, who has prosecuted more than 100 murder cases.

For more than an hour, Morrissey, Tully and Beland described the process of a crime-scene investigation. Morrissey provided an overview of how a district attorney’s office operates. Tully then took over detailing every tool the state police uses to focus on potential suspects, using everything from conventional well-known DNA tracing to more recent technology such as data from FitBits, Google Maps and even Roomba vacuums.

“We in Norfolk County really try to leverage that new technology,” Tully said. “In the last 10 years, I’ve been fortunate to travel the country to learn what’s going on and how to leverage this digital footprint that everyone leaves in a criminal investigation.”

Like they would in a criminal investigation, following his presentation, Tully handed the floor to Beland. The Massachusetts 2012 prosecutor of the year described how the evidence gathered by Tully and his team is used within a courtroom.

Lynn BelandBeland highlighted a 2014 case where two men kidnapped another after they impersonated constables. They were eventually found guilty in the man’s death. It took almost two years to solve and a little bit of luck, but the dogged effort of authorities brought justice for the family, Beland said.

Through a drug investigation, authorities found blood evidence that proved to be the missing person. Eventually, through Morrissey’s plea for hunters to keep an eye out for human remains in the woods, the body was discovered, Beland said.

“All we knew at that time was they ‘dumped him in the woods,’” Morrissey said. “So we used the opportunity to get on TV and say, we have hunters out there, maybe they can find the body if they’re in the woods. Lo and behold, the police chief’s secretary’s son was out hunting. He came across human remains. It was just one of those freak things. They think I’m a genius, but I just got lucky.”

Following the presentation, students, many of whom envision themselves pursuing a career in criminal justice, asked questions of the district attorney’s office.

Morrissey emphasized the importance of internships in breaking into law enforcement or becoming a lawyer. He also encouraged anyone interested in becoming a police officer to take the state police exam.

“We’ve been starving for people,” Morrissey said. “I used to have a drawer full of resumes and I’m down to so little. But when people come in, our staff sees them. They say, ‘She was a tiger. She was really good. She fit in with everybody. She got it. She wanted to learn.’ That’s the kind of person we’re looking for. No matter where you go, a good internship is the best sales pitch."

Learn more about the Dean Leadership Institute and Criminal Justice programs at Dean College.