Recently in Homicide Category

May 26, 2014

Erroneous Jury Instruction Leads to Reversal of Defendant's First Degree Murder Conviction

Last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) reversed the conviction of a criminal defendant for first degree murder after finding that the trial judge had erred in instructing the jury as to their deliberations on first degree murder versus the lesser offense of second degree murder.

In Commonwealth v. Figueroa, the defendant did not deny that he shot and killed the victim. Instead, the issue was whether the defendant's killing was done with the intent to kill or deliberate premeditation. If the jury believed that the defendant had the requisite intent, then a verdict of first degree murder would have been appropriate. However, if the jury believed that the defendant was so intoxicated from alcohol and/or cocaine that he could not have formed the legal intent, then a conviction of second degree murder would have been appropriate.

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March 17, 2014

Massachusetts High Court Examines Statute Permitting Defendants to Seek Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued its opinion in Commonwealth v. Wade relative to the standards applicable to M.G.L. c. 278A, a statute enacted in 2012 that provides convicted and incarcerated defendants access to forensic and scientific analysis of evidence used to convict them. The statute's purpose was "to remedy the injustice of wrongful convictions of factually innocent persons by allowing access to analyses of biological material with newer forensic and scientific techniques."

In Wade, the defendant was convicted in 1997 of first-degree murder on a theory of felony-murder and aggravated rape. The defendant was accused of raping the 83-year-old victim who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and who lived on the farm where the defendant worked. The victim was allegedly found naked on the defendant's bed on the property with injuries, which later led to complications and eventually her death. Evidence found on the victim and her clothing showed the presence of semen and sperm, but neither the defendant nor the Commonwealth sought DNA testing of the evidence. Since at least 2002, the defendant has been attempting to obtain DNA testing of the physical evidence against him, with the belief that it will exonerate him of the crimes for which he has been convicted. Each such attempt has been unsuccessful.

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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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January 10, 2013

Supreme Judicial Court Upholds Superior Court's Dismissal of Murder Indictment

The Supreme Judicial Court has upheld a Superior Court's dismissal of a second degree murder indictment against the defendant.

A grand jury returned an indictment for second degree murder against the defendant in the killing of Rene Valdez. Because the prosecutor failed to disclose certain exculpatory evidence to the grand jury that the altercation may have begun when the victim and an accomplice tried to rob the defendant, the Superior Court dismissed the indictment against the defendant, who was sixteen at the time of the alleged crime.

When the grand jury returned an indictment against the defendant for the second time, the Superior Court dismissed the charge again on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The Commonwealth appealed the second dismissal.

The Supreme Judicial Court first noted that the Superior Court was incorrect regarding the sufficiency of the evidence for a second degree murder charge. The Commonwealth offered sufficient evidence to prove the two elements of murder in the second degree: that an unlawful killing had been committed and that it had been committed with malice. Furthermore, the Commonwealth bears no burden to present evidence that the killing may have occurred in a heat of passion arising from reasonable provocation or sudden combat, or constituted excessive use of force in self-defense.

However, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the indictment must be overturned because the grand jury did not take into account the defendant's youth. "An indictment for murder brought against a juvenile defendant carries an added and significant consequence. A murder indictment must be tried in the Superior Court ... and the juvenile defendant will be treated in all respects as an adult. If indicted for any other crime, the juvenile defendant would otherwise proceed in the Juvenile Court, with the protections there afforded him." Because the grand jury here was not provided such instructions, the indictment was properly dismissed.

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.

March 2, 2012

Roxbury Man Fatally Shot in his Car

According to Boston Police, a man was shot Monday night around 8:54 pm while sitting in a parked car on the dangerous Homestead Street in Roxbury. Police reported that the man was sitting in the front seat and was fatally shot through his glasses.

There have been no arrest in connection with the shooting and Boston Police have not discussed a motive yet. The man, who was shot, was not known by Police and his car carried out of state plates on it.

This recent murder is the seventh in Boston in 2012, but the third in the last week. At this same time last year, there were also three murders in Boston. Aside from last night's murder, the most recent took place in Roxbury on Thursday when a 24 year old man was shot dead on Burrell Street.

The full article can be seen here.

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December 20, 2011

Watertown's first black police officer murdered at 60

A 60 year old Roxbury woman was recently found dead in her Roxbury apartment by Boston Police. Police discovered the body of the women at 8 Wardman Road. She was discovered unresponsive when officers arrived on the scene.

An autopsy was performed ruling the death was by homicide. Investigators have yet to release any details about the homicide, including how she died or why they are declaring it a murder.

According to her family members, the woman was Watertown's first black police officer, and had previously sued the department for racial and gender discrimination.

The full article can be seen here.

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September 2, 2011

Man Fatally Shot in Boston Seaport District

A 24 year old man was shot and killed in Boston's up and coming seaport district. Boston Police reported the shooting may have started as a fight on board the charter Viking Starliner Boat.

The victim allegedly had ties to both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. According to reports, the man was shot on a Northern Avenue dock behind the bank of America Pavilion at around 2:20 a.m. The shooting took place after his boat docked.

3 years ago to the day of this shooting there was a very similar and unsolved murder of a 41 year old mother of three from Brockton who had also been aboard a Boston cruise. The woman was shot to death in the parking lot of the Institute of Contemporary Art following an altercation aboard the Provincetown II cruise ship.

The full article can be seen here.

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August 10, 2011

Fatal Shooting in the South End

According to a spokesman, Boston police Officer James Kennealy responded to an area of the South End near Harrison Avenue and East Berkeley Street, around 5 a.m. August 6th, because a man had been shot. The man, who was in his 30's, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police reports detailed that a bullet hole could be seen in the first floor window of a vacant commercial space on East Berkeley Street after the shooting. The area of the shooting is not known for crime. Within walking distance of the shooting, the street is lined with a high-end loft apartment complex, upscale restaurants, yoga facilities, and the Pine Street Inn.

A witness, Kevin, 46, told police that he called 911 the morning of the shooting after hearing three shots and seeing a man running from the scene. Kevin told reporters "he is considering moving to a different part of the neighborhood," because the shooting came on the heels of a recent stabbing in the same general area.

The full article can be seen here.

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July 29, 2011

Fatal Shooting: Man Kills Girlfriend in Dorchester

Boston police arrested Junior Ferandes of Dorchester, 22, on charges that he fatally shot a 21 year old Brockton woman. The woman, Alessa Castellon, 21, originally from Roslindale, had been dating the man who allegedly shot her.

Castellon was found dead by police at approximately 3am Sunday morning, on Granger Street. The alleged shooter, Ferandes, will be charged with murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. Castellon's father told the Boston Herald that his daughter had been dating Fernades about 6 months.

Castellon was studying criminal justice at Bunker Hill Community College, and had plans to start a new job at a Brockton auto body shop on the day of the shooting. Catellon had a 3 and a half year old son, Antonio Llamas, who is currently being raised by her grandparents.

The full article can be seen here.

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July 27, 2011

Man and woman shot to death inside Hyde Park Home

A woman and men from Hyde Park were shot to death this morning inside their home. Their small child was left unharmed. The identities of the victims were not released, but according to reports they were both in their 20's. The child is between the ages of 3 and 4.

Boston Police spokeswoman, Elaine Driscoll, reported that retired Boston police detective, William Kee, told reporters that one of the victims was his daughter. Driscoll told reporters that the couple was pronounced dead due to multiple gunshot wounds.

Boston police will not release the identities of the victims until further into their investigations, which is ongoing. The motives for the shooting unknown, but Driscoll reported the evidence gathered so far points to the shooting as a targeted act of violence.

The full article can be seen here.

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July 13, 2011

Dorchester School Summer Camp Shooting

Gunfire shattered the window of a Dorchester middle school on Thursday, July 7, around 2:30pm. The shots missed the groups of children attending summer camp at the school, but struck and fatally injured a man who was outside the building. The school was being used as a children's summer camp by Roxbury-based Project Right.

Boston's Mayor Menino spoke outside Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School and said, "it's a continuing frustration; the police are doing their job. We're going to continue to take bad guys off the street. We're going to keep doing our work. We're not going to stop." Boston police are reporting that the intended targeted was a man who was sitting in a car on Columbia Road.

The shooting came just hours after police carried out two warrant sweeps and arrested top level members of one of Boston's notoriously violent street gangs.

The full article can be seen here.

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July 8, 2011

Fourth of July Fatalities

In only five hours on July 4th, 13 people are shot and stabbed around Boston 7.5.11
Within 5 hours, 13 people were shot or stabbed in 5 of the Boston neighborhoods July 4th night. 4 of the 13 victims were fatally wounded. Investigations are asking whether any of violence is inter-connected.

Boston Police Spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the department is looking at all the individual acts, and "investigators are trying to sort out what happened on the street last night and over the weekend." Driscoll went on to say that Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis "is meeting with his command staff and district level detectives to analyze each incident and figure out what the relationships are."

The identities of the victims have not been released but Boston Police have released a list of where the violence took place, and at which places victims did not survive their injuries. The cited violence reportedly took place in the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, the South End, South Boston, and Mattapan.

The full article can be seen here.

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June 27, 2011

Weekend Shootings in Boston

In two separate shootings over the weekend, one man died and another suffered life- threatening injuries in Dorchester and Roxbury, MA, respectively. According to Boston police officer and spokesman Eddy Chrispin, officers responded to East Cottage and Sumner Streets in Dorchester on Sunday, June 26th at approximately 9:30 p.m to find a male in his early to mid 20's shot with serious injuries.

Rich Adams, a security guard at a local Tedeschi's near the scene, reported that he heard three distinct shots and then a large group at the scene of the crime. The area around the shooting was then taped off so crime-scene photographers and investigators could gather evidence.

A deadly weekend in Boston, just one night earlier, a 21 year old male was shot in the neighboring town of Roxbury MA. Boston Police in Roxbury responded to Dearborn and Eustis Streets around 11 p.m. Saturday night following reports of a shooting. The victim in the Roxbury shooting managed to take himself to Boston Medical Center after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, but died there a short time later. Boston Police currently have no suspects in either of the two shootings.

The full article can be seen here.

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June 6, 2011

Boston Police Hunt Down Dorchester Shootings Assailants

Boston Police are on the lookout for suspects tied to two Dorchester shootings late Tuesday night, May 31, which left one man dead, another with life threatening personal injuries, and neighbors shaken up. The fatal shooting took place shortly after 8 p.m. near 713 Dudley Street in Dorchester near Good Shepherd Church with churchgoers in close proximity.

A local laundromat owner reported seeing people running in all directions, and within minutes the entire area was saturated with police officers and cruisers. According to police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll, the 28 year old victim was found around the corner on Humphreys Street and was pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center.

Driscoll went on to report that the second shooting occurred shortly after 10 p.m., when a 21 year old man was shot around 113 Evans Street. The victim was rushed to Boston Medical Center where he is suffering from life threatening injuries.

The full article can be seen here.

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May 11, 2011

Teen Shot and Killed at MBTA Station

A young man was shot and killed on Saturday afternoon during a reported fight that took place on the platform of the Savin Hill MBTA Station in Dorchester, Massachusetts. According the Deputy Transit Police Chief Lewis Best, a fight broke out among several men around 2:50 p.m. During the fight a 19 year old man was shot and then transported to the Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

According to Best, the investigation and witness interviews led police to a home only 2 blocks away from the station on 49 Savin Hill Ave. When the police arrived at the home they seized the home, and at least four men were brought out, handcuffed, and placed in the back of Boston Police cruisers. The four men have not been arrested or charged at this time but will be questioned and may possibly be witnesses.

After the shooting, over a dozen witnesses were brought on an MBTA bus to the police station were officers interviewed them. Best speculated that the shooting did not appear to be a random act, but could not report on a motive. Boston Police have swarmed the normally peaceful Savin Hill section of Dorchester with many high ranking officers, as well as homicide detectives from the Boston Police Department.

The full article is featured here .

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