Recently in Firearms Charges Category

March 31, 2014

Appeals Court Reverses Shooting Conviction Based on Insufficient Evidence

In Commonwealth v. Lobo, the defendant was convicted of two counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, after he was tried for the shootings of two brothers on Hancock Street in Brockton in 2005. At trial, the Commonwealth called only one eyewitness to testify. That witness, the victims' father, testified that he heard rapid gunshots fired while a white car was driving in front of him and his sons. He did not see a gun, a muzzle flash, or the faces of any of the people in the car. He was unable to say whether the gunshot sounds had come from the area of the white car, but assumed that they had.

The father further testified that when the white car drove away, he discovered that his sons had both been shot. He then heard the car return at a high speed and a car door open. He momentarily saw a male, who he later identified as the defendant, standing outside of the car. The father testified that he then heard two or three more shots fired, but he could not tell where those shots had come from. He never saw a gun in the defendant's possession.

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March 24, 2014

'Dangerous Weapon' Not Necessarily a 'Deadly Weapon' for Purposes of Enhanced Sentencing Statute

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed a judgment against a criminal defendant who had been sentenced by a superior court judge under the sentencing enhancement provisions of the Massachusetts Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In relevant part, the ACCA applies to any person who has been previously and in separate instances been convicted of three violent crimes, or three serious drug offenses, or any combination of violent crimes or serious drug offenses that total three. Under the ACCA, if a person with such a criminal history is found to be in unlawful possession of a firearm under the applicable Massachusetts firearms laws, he may face a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison. The statute defines a "violent crime" as, among other criteria, a crime that involved the use or possession of a "deadly weapon."

In Commonwealth v. Boyd, the defendant's adult criminal record included convictions for the unlicensed carrying of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition. However, the defendant also had juvenile convictions for assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery on a public employee. In this case, the defendant was further convicted of unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun, unlawful possession of ammunition without a firearms identification card, unlawful possession of a loaded sawed-off shotgun, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and two counts of reckless endangerment of a child.

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January 22, 2014

SJC Justices Disagree as to Effect of Prosecutor's Seemingly Inconsistent Statements at Two Separate Trials

This week, a 4-3 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) decision highlighted the justices' conflicting views on the prejudicial effect on a criminal defendant when a prosecutor urges a jury to believe that one person was the principal actor in a murder at one trial, and, failing to convince that jury, urges a different jury to believe that the defendant pulled the trigger in the defendant's subsequent trial.

In Commonwealth v. Keo, Keo faced a charge of first degree murder in the shooting death of the victim, who was a member of a rival gang, in Lynn in November 2007. The evidence in that case suggested that, on that date, Bonrad Sok had called Keo, and Keo joined Sok and others at a restaurant where the victim and his girlfriend were also present. About five weeks prior to that time, the victim had stabbed Keo.

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May 3, 2013

Commonwealth Finds Conviction for Carrying an Unlicensed Firearm is Reversible when no Evidence is Presented to show the Defendant had the Requisite Intention

Where the defendant was convicted of carrying an unlicensed firearm, the conviction is reversed when no evidence has been presented to show that defendant had the requisite intention to control the firearm.

While the defendant waited for his girlfriend outside her apartment, her brother Eduardo Alvarez went up to the defendant and showed him his firearm. The defendant checked out the firearm, even touching it, but ultimately gave it back to Alvarez. After the date, the defendant drove Alvarez and his brothers around in his new car. While later sitting in the car in front of the apartment and listening to music, Officer Deveney, who could only see the "tops of their torso[s] and their heads," saw the defendant look from side to side. Alvarez was observed examining an object in his hand. When Officer Deveney flashed his flashlight into the car, Alvarez turned toward Deveney and immediately dropped the object he was holding into his lap. Deveney saw the object was a black handgun.

After being Mirandized, the defendant admitted that he knew Alvarez had a firearm but was unaware he had the firearm on him while in the defendant's car. The defendant also told Officer Deveney that Alvarez had shown him a firearm earlier that day and that he had handled the weapon. The defendant was placed under arrest and later convicted of carrying an unlicensed firearm.

While the Appeals Court held that the trial judge did not err in admitting the defendant's extrajudicial statements and the defendant had the ability to exercise dominion and control over the firearm, the court held that the "evidence was insufficient to establish that the defendant intended to exercise 'dominion and control' over the firearm ... presence alone is insufficient to establish an intention to exercise control. ... Rather, the defendant's presence in the vehicle must be augmented by additional inculpatory evidence."

"The defendant was not wearing a holster sized to fit the firearm ... nor was he carrying ammunition that matched the weapon. ... Moreover, he made no attempt to conceal the firearm from [Officer] Deveney. ... Additionally, the defendant did not manifest any outward signs that the firearm belonged to him or that he intended to control the firearm. His vehicle was legally parked on the side of the road directly outside his girl friend's residence. The defendant made no attempt to evade Officer Deveney or manipulate the vehicle in any way to dispose of the weapon. At best, the fact that the defendant was the operator of the vehicle served only to put him in the proximity of the firearm and did not provide evidentiary support for the proposition that he intended to control the firearm."

"Because neither the defendant's ownership or operation nor his proximity to the firearm, alone or in combination, is sufficient to support his conviction, the sufficiency of the evidence rests on the location, time of the encounter, and behavior of the passengers. Here, the factual considerations cited by the Commonwealth shed little light on the defendant's intent. Accordingly, we conclude that the evidence was insufficient to support the defendant's conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm based on a theory of constructive possession." Commonwealth v. Romero.

If you or a family member has been charged with criminal activity, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers.

January 5, 2012

Daytime shooting in Chelsea MA

A 21 year old male was shot on Broadway in Chelsea, Massachusetts, recently. Police officers responded to thee scene of the shooting at 2:44 p.m. When they arrived, they discovered a young man suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso. The man was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

According to witnesses, two gunshots went off. A Caucasian or Hispanic man wearing a green hooded jacket was seen running from the scene. In response to the shooting, the Clark Avenue Middle School was lock downed while officers canvassed the area looking for the shooter. Chelsea police are currently continuing the investigation as the perpetrator has not been located.

The full article can be seen here.

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July 18, 2011

Driveway Dispute in Dorchester: Man Shoots at his Neighbor

A 32 year old Dorchester man was arrested on Sunday, July 17, after he reportedly fired a gun at his neighbor, after an argument they had over a blocked driveway. The assault victim approached nearby police officers on the corner of Bowdoin and Hamilton, around 10 a.m., to informing them he had been in a serious argument with his neighbor that led to the shooting.

He said his neighbor, Charles Johnson, became angry when he asked him to move his car from his driveway. According to reports, Johnson went into his home to get his gun. When he came back outside, he punched his neighbor in the face, fired an errant shot and drove away.

Boston Police stopped Johnson a short distance from his house and charged him with assault with intent to murder, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, possession of a firearm, and operating a motor vehicle after suspension.

The full article can be seen here.

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June 8, 2011

Mattapan Man Arrested on Weapons Charges

The Boston Police arrested a 22 year old Mattapan Man on a variety of gun and drug charges after executing an arrest warrant on outstanding charges of assault to murder and threats to commit a crime. The Mattapan man, Sirrocko Landrum, had only been released from federal prison 3 months ago on a drug trafficking conviction.

While executing the warrant the Boston Police Fugitive Apprehension Unit and U.S. Marshalls uncovered a mini weapons armory in the Mattapan apartment at 115 Deering Road. The officers reported finding six loaded firearms, three rifles, two semi automatic handguns and a revolver. In addition to the weapons the officers found more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

In addition to the weapons, officers found crack cocaine and a bulletproof vest. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis reported that "the city today is a safer place with this individual behind bars and that there is no doubt that this significant arrest prevented future violence."

The full article can be seen here.

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May 30, 2011

Guns in School: Boston Teen Carries Semiautomatic Handgun

According to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, a 17 year old Boston student was held on $25,000 bail for allegedly bringing a loaded gun into school with him. The student, Brendan Campbell, of Roxbury, was arraigned in East Boston on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, unlawfully carrying a loaded firearm, and others stemming from the incident.

Boston School police responded to East Boston High School after Campbell was seen entering the building through a side door around 12:30. The police then brought Campbell to the school police office for a search because of his unauthorized entry through the door. According to the officers, during the search Campbell became very nervous and the police began to suspect that he might have a weapon in his bag.

The officers then attempted to search his bag and Campbell resisted. They were then able to grab the bag and lay it on the desk where an officer felt the outline of a handgun. The firearm that was recovered was a .25 caliber semiautomatic handgun. The police then noticed that the firearm was loaded and Campbell was taken into custody.

The full article is featured here.

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January 14, 2011

Police Chief Acquitted in 8 Year Old Boy's Death

Almost three years after Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Connecticut, fired and accidentally shot himself with an Uzi submachine gun at a Massachusetts gun fair, the organizer, former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Had Fleury been charged, he faced 20 years in prison. The Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club is an annual gun show near Springfield, Massachusetts. The Expo was promoted as educational and deemed safe and legal.

Dr. Charles Bizilj, Christopher's father, had to sign a waiver before using the guns, absolving anyone at liability in the case of injury or death. The waiver also covered his sons, Colin, who was 11, and Christopher, who was 8. Under Charles Bizilj's supervision, both boys shot the Uzi. The only other direct supervision was provided by Michael Spano, who was 15 at the time and who bore witness to Christopher Bizilj's death, when the Uzi he was shooting kicked back and shot him in the head.

The latest, full article if featured in the Boston Globe, Gun fair organizer acquitted in boy's Uzi death.

September 16, 2010

Firearms Charges Against Boston Teen After Chase Through Football Practice

Michael Brown, a Boston teenager, was arrested and charged yesterday for allegedly firing a gun and then running through a football field with it. After police responded to shots fired on Wentworth St., they allegedly saw Brown fleeing towards Dorchester High School and chased him through the field, interrupting Pop Warner practice. Police allege that they saw something in Brown's hand during the chase and that Brown ran toward Washington St. and hopped a fence into an Armandine St. yard. Police said that a witness told them that Brown hid something in a pile of leaves, and there the officers found a gun. Upon finding the gun, police say they asked Brown whether he had a license for the gun, and Brown replied that he didn't.

The teen now faces charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, carrying a loaded firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and disturbing the peace.

The Boston Globe: Boston teenager faces firearms charges; chase disrupts football practice

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