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Totman Drive Murder Conviction Upheld

The state's Superior Court today upheld a first-degree conviction of Michael Bizanowicz for the 2004 murder of Joanne and Alyssa Presti.

A first-degree murder conviction has been affirmed by the court today in the 2004 Presti killings on Totman Drive.

Michael J. Bizanowicz, who was convicted of the double-murder of Joanne, 34, and Alyssa, 12, Presti in January of 2004, had appealed his conviction, citing many reasons, including that the Woburn Police Department should have investigated other suspects.

According to court documents, Bizanowicz’ defense attorney Jeffrey L. Baler also argued that DNA evidence should not have been used in the trial.

But the state Superior Court ruled today, “We have reviewed the entire record and discern no reason to order a new trial or reduce the convictions of murder in the first degree to a lesser degree of guilt.”

In a ruling by Judge Judith Cowin, the justice wrote, “We reject the defendant's claims [and] affirm his convictions of murder in the first degree.”

While the murder charges were upheld, the court did vacate Bizanowicz’ rape conviction as “duplicative.”

According to officials, Bizanowicz, who lived in a Lowell rooming house, knew the victims because he spent a great deal of time in Woburn with his former girlfriend and daughter.

Joanne Presti and her children moved into a two-family duplex on Totman Drive in November of 2003, and, according to officials, allowed Bizanowicz into her home several times to assist with “household tasks.”

In documents, the court said that Bizanowicz attempted to visit his own daughter on Totman Drive on Jan. 4, 2004, but was not allowed to by the baby’s mother. Presti visited her friend, Bizanowicz’s former girlfriend, also that night, but left and was not seen alive again.

Officials checked Joanne Presti’s computer records and found that she was online until about 9:30 p.m. and that she used her telephone around 10 p.m. and again at 11:30 p.m. when she had a 15-minute phone conversation with Bizanowicz.

Officials said that Bizanowicz did not go to work the next day, and Presti’s daughter, Alyssa, did not go to school. The Presti’s vehicle did not move from the driveway, the blinds remained drawn and telephone calls went unanswered.

On Jan. 7, 2004, family members entered the home and, officials said, found the dead bodies of Joanne and Alyssa Presti in pools of their own blood.

Evidence submitted to the court showed that Joanne Presti was partially clad, bound and gagged, sexually assaulted, stabbed seven times in the neck area and sustained “blunt trauma” to the head.

Her daughter’s body was found upstairs, and evidence supported signs of a “severe struggle.”

Officials said there was “blood spatter and handprints on the wall, defensive wounds on Alyssa’s hands and arms and blood under her fingernails.” The girl was stabbed several times in different locations of the room, and stab wounds to the neck were officially listed as the cause of her death.  

The young son of Presti was found in the home, in his crib, dehydrated, but uninjured. 

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