January 29, 1991 JURY ACQUITS 17-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN POISON DEATH OF FOSTER CHILD Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff A Roxbury teen-ager found guilty of murder by a judge last year in part on the basis of evidence brought forward by a Boston Herald reporter was cleared of those same charges yesterday by a jury. The defendant, Christina Hill, 17, was accused of murder in the poisoning death of 2-year-old Henry Gallop, one of two foster children who died in the home of Hill's parents in 1987. The key piece of evidence used against Hill was a confession she allegedly made in 1987 to a friend, Leslie Limehouse, 19, formerly of Roxbury, according to authorities. Hill's alleged confession, as recounted by Limehouse, first surfaced in a 1989 Herald story by reporter Michelle Caruso. Caruso's story prompted the Suffolk County district attorney's office to reopen its investigation and eventually led to Hill's indictment and her jury- waived trial before Roxbury District Court Judge Gordon A. Martin Jr. All the legal proceedings have been closed-door sessions because of Hill's juvenile status. At the first trial, John H. Cunha Jr., Hill's attorney, called a witness who raised questions about whether Limehouse falsely incriminated Hill out of a sense of fear created by Caruso. The witness, Clara Kelley, 17, of Roxbury, a friend of both teen-agers, testified that she was approached by Caruso at a time when the investigation was stalled and coached about how to get Limehouse to incriminate Hill, Cunha said in an interview with the Globe yesterday. Kelley testified that Caruso got her to call Limehouse in South Carolina, where Limehouse had moved with her family, by saying that Kelley and Limehouse were in trouble with the police and that Hill was blaming them for Gallop's death, Cunha said in the interview. Authorities have said neither Kelley nor Limehouse was ever suspected in the Gallop death. Cunha said yesterday that Caruso lied to Kelley, and coached Kelley on what to say to Limehouse, to coerce statements from the teen-agers. "Caruso was saying, 'You better give evidence against her or else you'll be in trouble,' " said Cunha yesterday. Cunha called Caruso as a witness in the first trial, but Caruso refused to testify under her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. According to Kelley, Caruso tape-recorded the telephone conversation between Kelley and Limehouse without getting their consent, an apparent violation of state privacy laws, Cunha said. Limehouse testified at the first trial that Hill confessed to killing Gallop, but other witnesses said Limehouse privately recanted and expressed fear she would be prosecuted for perjury if she changed her story under oath, Cunha said. Martin found Hill guilty of second-degree murder. Under the state's dual trial system, Hill requested a jury trial. Cunha said yesterday that the jury deliberated less than 30 minutes before acquitting Hill, who has been free on bail since charges were brought. The jury trial lasted two weeks and included essentially the same testimony from Limehouse and Kelley, he said. Caruso was not called in deference to her earlier invocation of the Fifth Amendment. Caruso could not be reached for comment yesterday. She acknowledged in an interview last year after the first trial that she was called as a witness but declined to talk about her appearance or her role in bringing Limehouse forward. Caruso, who took credit for making possible the prosecution in the Gallop case, said at the time: "I did a job that I knew had to be done. I did it the best way I knew how. . . . The bottom line is that the DA got his witness and what I did or didn't do has got nothing to do with it." Caruso suggested competitors were trying to embarrass her out of anger or jealousy. Andrew Costello, Herald city editor, declined comment on the case last night. Gallop and 15-month-old Arron Johnson, both foster children, died in the home of James and Rachel Hill within a three-month period in 1987. An inquest conducted by Judge Charles T. Spurlock of Roxbury District Court concluded the two foster children were poisoned but made no determination on who was responsible. Paul K. Leary, Suffolk County first assistant district attorney, said the case is now over "unless some new evidence comes to light."