It might be surprising to some but Springfield MA ranks as the most unsafe cities in Massachusetts and number 55 on the list of most unsafe cities in America, according to the National City crime index. In 2006 it rose as high as number 40 on the national list of most unsafe cities in America. In terms of crime, Springfield had over 3 times the national average when it came to all violent crimes, and over 3 and a half times the national average in aggravated assaults.
These statistics turned real in late February when it was announced that 45 year old Joel Echols of Springfield had died in an area hospital after a late night altercation with his live in companion, 41 year old Beverly Caldwell. "Apparently, there was a domestic disturbance involving the victim and his girlfriend," said Springfield Police Lieutenant Robert Moynihan.
The police responded to Echols home and found him suffering from multiple stab wounds. Echols was rushed to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield where he was pronounced dead. Beverly Caldwell, Echols girlfriend will be represented by a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, as she is the lead suspect in the case. Caldwell is scheduled to be arraigned at the Springfield District Court on February 22. Neighbors where surprised to hear about the murder and claimed that the street is very quiet and safe.
The full article is featured in the Boston Globe: Man fatally stabbed in Springfield; woman charged
Attorney Tofani, of counsel to Parker|Scheer, LLP and an associate of the firm's criminal practice group, reflects:
This case will include, among other things, a couple interesting evidentiary issues. More specifically, the admissibility of the alleged statement made by the Defendant's wife, who presumably passed away shortly thereafter declaring: "you can't even shoot." At first glance, this statement appears to be precluded from being entered into evidence to prove its truth because the Defendant's wife is not available to testify, under oath and subject to cross-examination.
As a starting point, "hearsay" is generally prohibited from being entered into evidence for the fact finders' (judge or jury) consideration. Essentially, hearsay can be defined as: an out-of-court statement, offered by either the prosecution or the defense, to prove the truth of the matter asserted.
But, given unique nature of homicide cases, an exception to the rule against hearsay has evolved allowing out-of-court statements, offered to prove their truth, when a victim is not available to testify at court. This exception to the rule against hearsay applies when the declarant, person making the statement, made the statement while believing that their death was imminent; who died shortly thereafter; and, the statement was in regards to the cause of or circumstances of what the declarant believed to be impending death. Accordingly, this statement may be admissible under the foregoing exception to the rule against hearsay.
Mr. McCall allegedly made a number of additional statements to the police upon their arrival at the scene. Mr. McCall's Criminal Defense Attorney may challenge the alleged statements pursuant to constitutionally guaranteed rights against self incrimination and right to counsel, pursuant to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The success of this challenge may turn on whether the totality of the circumstances indicate whether Mr. McCall was already arrested and whether he made the alleged statements voluntarily.
A major hurdle that Mr. McCall's Criminal Defense Attorney will likely face, is the fact that his statements likely fall under a non-hearsay category, generally accepted as evidence, if relevant, and referred to as admissions by a party opponent. To fall within this acceptable category, that is not considered to be hearsay, the statement merely has to be allegedly made by the Defendant, and presented as evidence against him by the Prosecution.
Continue reading "Man Stabbed and Killed in Springfield, MA" »