Recently in Shootings Category

April 14, 2014

"I Don't Want to Talk" Sufficient to Invoke Right to Remain Silent

Last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) reversed a superior court judge's denial of a motion to suppress statements made by a defendant after he invoked his right to remain silent. The SJC found that the defendant sufficiently indicated to the interrogating officer that he was invoking that right.

In Commonwealth v. Hearns, the defendant was charged with the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy and the wounding of a fifteen-year-old boy in Jamaica Plain. The police suspected that the boys were shot in connection with a feud between two rival gangs in the area. According to their investigation, the defendant had admitted to a witness that he and others drove up to a basketball court on Heath Street, and the defendant, at the direction of older members in his gang, approached the victims, shot at them multiple times, and fled back to the vehicle and drove away. The defendant had also allegedly admitted his participation in the murder to another witness. That witness agreed to cooperate with the police, and consented to wearing a concealed recording device. During a recorded conversation between the defendant and the cooperating witness in an automobile, the defendant described how he committed the shooting.

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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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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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April 12, 2012

5 Former New Orleans Police Department Officers Sentenced in Post-Katrina Shootings

Multiple news outlets reported that, on Wednesday April 4, 2012, varying prison sentences were ordered by Judge Kurt D. Englehardt of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisianna. Judge Englehardt ordered federal prison sentences ranging from six years to sixty five years in response to the guilty findings of five ex-New Orleans Police Department Officers that shot six unarmed civilians two days after Hurricane Katrina. Two of the unarmed civilians were killed, and the ex-officers were apparently involved with wide ranging cover-ups to obstruct the investigations in relation thereto.

A number of ex-officers that were directly involved with the shootings and the subsequent cover-up previously entered pleas of guilty, and were ordered to serve significantly reduced prison sentences in return for their guilty pleas and testimony offered at the trials of the remaining co-defendants.

The evidence painted an alarming and tragic story of police misconduct in the immediate aftermath of one of the nations' most severe natural disasters. On September 4, 2005, as most of the city of New Orleans lay submerged in flood waters caused by Hurricane Katrina, members of the New Orleans Police Department responded to distress calls from the area of the Danziger Bridge in the eastern part of the city. Immediately upon arrival at the scene, officers began shooting, apparently indiscriminately, at numerous individuals that were desperately searching for food and shelter. A number of the victims were shot in the back as the attempted to flee the unprovoked assault.

Evidence further showed that the broad cover-up attempt included fabricated witnesses and a planted hand gun.

Before ordering the federal prison sentences, Judge Engelhardt condemned the mandatory minimum sentences that were linked to the charges involved because of the chilling effect these sentencing requirements have on the discretion of the Judge to analyze the totality of the circumstances, both aggravating and mitigating, in an attempt to reach the most equitable sentences. Judge Engelhardt further expressed displeasure by the significant range in sentences meted out, and the plea deals that were entered into by the federal prosecutors with cooperating witnesses.

Analysis by Parker | Scheer LLP Attorney Vincent A. Tofani:

Taking a moment to step back, away from one of the most troubling and tragic examples of police misconduct that I have ever heard of, I would like to address Judge Engelhardt's apparent displeasure with mandatory minimum sentences. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, specializing in drug trafficking offenses, I often grapple with the pitfalls associated with mandatory minimum sentences.

Most common, pursuant to the Massachusetts General Laws, a "School Zone" count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years, to be served consecutively to any sentence(s) ordered for the underlying offense. As a criminal defense attorney practicing in the densely populated cities comprising the greater Boston area, in my experience a "School Zone" count (essentially when a drug offense other than simple possession occurs within 1,000 feet of a school or 100 feet of a park) is applicable more often than not. This provides the prosecutor with substantial leverage when negotiating with a criminal defense lawyer, to determine whether the respective parties can favorably resolve a criminal matter prior to trial because of the severe implications that a school zone count carries.

I share Judge Engelhardt's concerns regarding sentencing guidelines that remove the discretion of the judge because I have never encountered two clients or two cases that are exactly the same. In most cases, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will identify mitigating circumstances involved in the criminal charges that their client faces. But, when a charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge has absolutely no discretion to take into account the unique circumstances that exist in every case, whether aggravating or mitigating.

I can appreciate the argument that harsh mandatory sentences act as an effective deterrent against the prohibited conduct. Notwithstanding, I believe that it is more important to afford judges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with discretion to order equitable sentences after taking into account the totality of the circumstances. Every individual is exactly that: an individual, with a unique background and circumstances. Mandatory minimum sentences ignore this fundamental concept that is inherently intertwined in every criminal case. Accordingly, a judge's ability to exercise his or her discretion when determining a sentence is an essential element in reaching an equitable result.

For a more comprehensive discussion regarding "school zone" counts pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, please click here.

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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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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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October 3, 2011

Man Fatally Shot in Avon, MA

State and local police are currently investigating a shooting in Avon that claimed a man's life. The shooting took place around 9:40 p.m. on Central Street. The Norfolk District Attorney reported that the victim, Kristopher Rosa, 23, was fatally shot in his car outside his home.

His father, Alfredo Rosa, said, "he was respectful and very polite and the most honest kid you'd want to meet." The district attorney's office has not yet discovered a motive but reiterated that it was clear that the shooting was not a random act.

Rosa's girlfriend, who was inside the car at the time of the shooting, said that "there were two cars, soon as they pulled out, there were two cars. One stopped in front and one in the back, and then they shot out the back window. " The fatal shooting is the first murder in Avon since March 1996.

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 19, 2011

Man shot during confrontation with Lowell Police

Lowell Police officers, who were investigating a report of domestic violence and assault and battery involving a woman and her son at their home, shot an armed man who was at the center of the conflict. Police officers arrived at the East Merrimack Street home in Lowell on Friday August 19th to discover the armed suspect at the scene, who they subsequently shot twice.

After the shooting, the man was flown by medical helicopter to a Boston Hospital for treatment. There is no report on his condition, but Lowell Police Captain Thomas Kennedy told reporters that because "the man was shot twice ... I imagine his injuries were quite serious."

According to Kennedy, the mother was not injured in the shooting but was brought to the hospital for observations. The identity of the armed man was not immediately known because public records did not have him listed as living in the house.

The full article can be seen here.

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August 12, 2011

Woman and Teen Fatally Shot in their Roslindale Apartment

Boston Police are currently investigating the fatal shooting of a woman, 43, and a 17 year old male that took place on the morning of August 7th. The shooting, which also injured a 34 year old man, took place around 3:45 a.m. at 3964 Washington Street, near the Forest Hills MBTA stop in Roslindale. The victims were found inside a three-decker apartment building suffering from gunshot wounds.

Boston Police spokesman Eddy Chrispin reported that victims were taken to an unnamed hospital, where the woman and boy were pronounced dead, and the injured man was treated.

The triple-decker apartment building, near the Forest Hills MBTA stop has been sealed off to the public.Two witnesses, who live across the street from the building, told police that the apartment building had been hosting a loud house party, but that they were not sure which unit. Boston Police report the investigation will be ongoing.

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 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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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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