Before the legislature is the question of how to respond to the case of Commonwealth v. Diatchenko. In that case, our Supreme Judicial Court found that it is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life without parole for first degree murder.
The basic question the legislature needs to answer is what should be the first parole eligibility date for juveniles convicted of murder. Under the post-Diatchenko combination of statutes and decisions, juveniles convicted of 2d degree murder face 15 to 25 years to first eligibility, while those convicted of first degree murder face only 15. The stair-casing of murder offenses needs to be revisited.
The legislature needs to consider whether to define different timelines to parole eligibility for different kinds of fact patterns. Are there some crimes that are so horrific that, even allowing for lack of maturity, they suggest something deeply lacking in the defendant’s humanity and dictate a very long wait for parole eligibility? The recent brain science findings that adolescents have underdeveloped brains need to be taken together with other psychological findings suggesting that exceptional sociopathy may be evident at a very early age. Very few kids commit horrible crimes of violence.
To get a better sense of the range of crimes committed by juveniles and classified as first degree in Masssachusetts, we are studying the cases of juvenile defendants who have been sentenced to life without parole.
The following collection of cases in which juveniles have been sentenced to life without parole is based on a list prepared by Barbara Kaban, Director of Juvenile Appeals, Youth Advocacy Division, CPCS, covering the period 1974 to 2012. A second list supplied by the Department of Public Safety includes three additional defendants and we are running down the details on those defendants.
In most instances below, we are quoting from opinions of the Supreme Judicial Court, which usually, for legal reasons, present the facts in the light most favorable to the prosecution. This list is just a starting point for understanding the issues in the cases.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The murder victim was Maurice Dean. On March 1, 1974, Dean attended a performance in the company of Thomas Valengavich and Robert Applegate. Upon leaving, Dean and his companions were stopped on the street by three young men. One of the young men produced a silver colored handgun, and demanded money. After collecting the victims’ money, he shot each of them. The three young men then fled, and Dean died six hours later.
The principal issue at trial was the identity of the killer. The Commonwealth’s evidence linked the defendant to the crime in several ways. Applegate and Valengavich identified the defendant in court as the killer. A taxi driver and a passenger in the taxi testified that two men had hailed the taxi near the time and place of the crime, and the passenger identified the defendant as one of these men. On leaving the taxi, the man later identified as the defendant fired a silver handgun through the window of the taxi. On March 11, less than two weeks after the murder, a wooden box bearing the defendant’s fingerprints was found at the scene of a shooting. The same gun used to kill Dean was used in this shooting. Finally, the murder gun was found in the defendant’s possession in New York on March 17.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
About 2 P.M. on Sunday, August 24, 1975, the victim, a white man thirty-four years old, came out of a store in Dorchester and walked toward his car. The defendant, a black man of eighteen, tiptoed behind him and hit him on the head with a baseball bat. The defendant then went into a building, changed his clothes, and crossed the street to the store, where he worked. When asked why he had hit the man, he said, “For kicks.” The victim was taken to a hospital. There a large portion of the front of his skull was removed to relieve pressure on his brain, and he breathed with the aid of an artificial respirator. On August 26, his blood pressure, heartbeat and pulse were not observable, he failed to breathe when taken off the respirator for two minutes, and an electroencephalogram failed to reveal any cerebral electrical activity. On August 28, he again made no attempt to breathe when taken off the respirator, there were no reflex actions or responses to painful stimulation, and a second electroencephalogram showed no evidence of brain wave activity. After consultation with the victim’s family, the respirator was removed on August 31, and his heart stopped.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
Alfred K. Brown was born in Salem, Massachusetts. His mother was Japanese and his father Caucasian. The defendant lived with his parents and his two older sisters in Danvers, Massachusetts, until he was about eight years old. At that time, the family moved to Japan, where the defendant spent the next seven years. In the summer of 1977, the Brown family (with the exception of the defendant’s oldest sister) returned to Massachusetts and settled in Topsfield. The defendant enrolled as a member of the sophomore class at Masconomet Regional High School and began attending classes when school resumed in September, 1977.
The defendant’s fellow students described him as a quiet, average student. He received average grades in his classes with the exception of a geometry class, which he failed. His teachers described him as quiet, average and shy, but not extraordinarily so. He was able, despite his shyness, to work with others. He participated in the high school photography club, and students who worked beside him in the darkroom noticed nothing unusual. None of the teachers or students who testified at trial could recollect any incidents indicating that the defendant might have been treated differently from other students because of his background.
His personal library consisted mainly of what the psychiatrist called by the defense characterized as “terrorist” books [Note 1] and books and magazines on firearms.
In the months after the Brown family returned to Massachusetts, the defendant had entertained thoughts of suicide. He had also considered killing his parents: “The music I played was too loud, I would sleep too late and they were bugging me and I just got sick of it.” [Note 2] He said that, shortly before the shootings, “My mother was mad at me because I flunked geometry. I just got mad and decided to get it over with.” When asked what his mother had said to him at the time, the defendant replied, “She said `why don’t you try harder.’ ”
On the evening of Friday, January 27, 1978, the defendant had just finished reading “The Glory Boys.” In the final chapter the hero is executed by being shot in the head. Approximately ten minutes later, the defendant shot his mother with his .22 caliber rifle. The bullet struck her in the chin and passed through her head, killing her. The defendant’s twenty year old sister had tried to escape. The defendant shot her twice in the back, twice in the chest and once in the head. When the defendant’s father arrived home, the defendant shot him six times (three times in the head) because his father “drove in when I was leaving and I had to get him too.” His father had time only to say, “[N]o.”
Regarding the defendant’s possible insanity, the court summarized the testimony as follows:
The Commonwealth called as witnesses all the police officers who had spoken to the defendant during the events described above. The officers all testified that, during the time the defendant was in the police station, he appeared sober and was very calm. His voice was clear and low. When the defendant stated that he had killed his parents, his voice rose a little; otherwise, he spoke without expression. He voiced no regrets. The defendant did not complain while in the station. He did not ask for food or water and did not ask to use the toilet facilities. He understood English, spoke well and was cooperative. Chief Moore testified that the defendant seemed a normal, intelligent youngster when he came to the police station in August, 1977, with his father to obtain a firearm identification card [Note 8] and was “normal” — and still sane — on the night of the shootings. Officer French opined that the defendant was sane on that evening. Various school-mates and teachers testified, as summarized above, that the defendant appeared to be normal and intelligent.
After the Commonwealth rested, the defense put on its sole witness, a psychiatrist who had met with the defendant on two occasions shortly after his arrest and had spoken briefly with the defendant’s surviving sister. This witness read a report to the jury which she had prepared not long after examining the defendant.
The defendant told this psychiatrist that “he didn’t see anything wrong with murder or anything like that.” He said that he had killed his mother after a discussion of a failing grade, believing, “[T]hat would stop her from bugging me.” The psychiatrist wrote (and repeated at trial) that, “[a]sked directly whether he regretted having done it, he said he
guessed so' --since I got stuck in this place.’ Asked whether there was any act he would consider immoral or wrong, [the defendant] said `Yes, if I’d sat around and watched them die — if it wasn’t quick — it would be morally wrong; but I made sure they were dead — if they’re dead they can’t bug you about your grades.’ ” The defendant understood that his feeling about killing was unusual, and said that “since I would (still) kill if I got in a fight, they wouldn’t want me on the street.”
The defense expert opined that the defendant, although competent to stand trial, [Note 9] was “seriously mentally ill” with paranoid schizophrenia and that, “[a]lthough he may have had substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct,” she believed that “he did not have the capacity at the time of the shootings to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. His mental illness deprived him of the power to make the right choices governing his behavior.” In her report she added, however, that “[t]his diagnosis could be debated.” At trial, the psychiatrist stood by her earlier diagnosis.
The Commonwealth called in rebuttal a second psychiatrist who had interviewed the defendant at least eight times over a period of one year, had read the police reports and visited the scene of the shootings three times, and had talked to the defendant’s surviving sister on at least twenty occasions. He had also reviewed medical and psychiatric reports prepared by the staffs of two institutions to which the defendant had been sent for observation and examination.
The Commonwealth’s expert stated that extensive examinations of the defendant revealed that he suffered from no physical abnormalities, that he had experienced no hallucinations and was in contact with reality, that he was very cooperative and of above average intelligence. The psychiatrist found the defendant to be suffering from mental illness, which he diagnosed as latent schizophrenia, but “did not find sufficient evidence of mental disease or defect to take away criminal responsibility.”
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On November 16, 1979, about 4 A.M., Richard Dwyer was seated in a parked taxicab on Washington Street in downtown Boston. He saw three young men, two tall and one short, cross the street toward him and enter ITOA taxicab No. 649 which was parked immediately in front of his taxicab. The taxicab drove off. Later that day, after learning of the death of the driver of ITOA taxicab No. 649, Dwyer called the police, went to a police station, and made a positive identification of a picture of Watson and an eighty percent certain identification of a picture of Clay. Dwyer was then subjected to hypnotism and thereafter made a positive identification of Clay’s picture as that of the short man. He continued to be positive of his identification of Watson’s picture. Eleven days later, Dwyer was hypnotized again, and his opinion did not change. He never positively identified the third man. At trial, the fact of Dwyer’s pretrial identification of photographs of Watson and Clay was admitted in evidence, including the change in his confidence in his identification of Clay after hypnosis. Dwyer identified the defendants in the courtroom as well.
About 4:20 A.M. on the same morning, Neal Sweatt, a resident of an apartment on Brookway Terrace in the Archdale Housing Project, in the Roslindale section of Boston, went to a parlor window, after his mother had called, “Look, they’re pulling a cab driver . . . out of the cab.” Sweatt testified that he recognized Watson, whom he had seen previously but whose name he did not know, and Clay, whose first name he knew. They and the third man pulled Boyajian from the taxicab. Sweatt heard Boyajian say, “Take what you want, but let me live.” The three men beat Boyajian. While Watson held Boyajian, Clay went through his pockets. Boyajian threw an object which Clay retrieved. Watson released Boyajian and disappeared from sight momentarily. Then Sweatt saw Clay point an arm in Boyajian’s direction. He heard at least three shots, after which the three men ran away together. Parts of Sweatt’s testimony, but not the identifications, were corroborated by his mother and by a friend of Sweatt, each of whom was looking out a window in the parlor. There was evidence that Boyajian was shot five times in the head.
The SJC summarized the case, in a very limited way as follows:
The circumstances of the crimes are not significant for the purposes of analyzing the questions before us. Fifteen year old Kathleen Boardman took her dog for a walk in the early evening on November 23, 1979, and never returned home. Her body was found more than two weeks later in a concrete shed. One Michael Amann, who, before the defendant’s trial, pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree of Kathleen Boardman, testified for the prosecution. He described the brutal circumstances of the kidnapping, the rapes, and the murder in which he and the defendant participated. The defendant testified that he was with Amann and the victim before the crimes but that they left him and the victim’s dog beside some railroad tracks before any crime was committed. He denied any involvement in the crimes.
The SJC summarized the facts in a companion case as follows:
In March and April of 1981, the second-floor apartment of Donna Westbrooks on Hyde Park Avenue in Boston was occupied at various times by Westbrooks, the defendant [Pennellatore], Costello, and a number of other individuals, most of whom were youths of junior high school or high school age. The victim lived alone upstairs in a third-floor apartment. On March 30, Westbrooks observed that the victim owned several valuable items of jewelry, and this fact was communicated to a number of the occupants of her apartment. A subsequent plan was hatched to steal these items. On April 6, 1981, Westbrooks and Costello went to the victim’s apartment, ostensibly for a visit. They were invited in and served orange juice by the victim. Costello rose from the table in order to put the glasses in the sink. He then walked up behind the victim, removed a length of heavy black telephone cable from his sleeve, and struck the victim several times with the cable on the back of her head.
Westbrooks returned to her apartment and told the defendant that Costello needed his assistance. By her account, the defendant asked, “What happened? . . . Did he hit her yet?” The defendant ran upstairs and saw the victim lying on the kitchen floor screaming in pain. As the victim began to rise up from the floor, the defendant took the cable and by his account struck the victim fifty or sixty times until she lay motionless on the floor.
The defendant and Costello then proceeded to steal items from the victim’s apartment. Just prior to their departure, they noticed that the victim was still alive. An attempt was then made to suffocate her with a pillow, and her face was struck several times with a hammer. Finally, her wrist was slit, and the defendant and Costello departed.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the evening of May 9, 1981, at approximately 9:45 P.M., Boston police Officer Peter Jerome received a radio call directing him to an alley at the rear of 860 Beacon Street, near Kenmore Square. When he arrived he saw the victim, Thomas Wharf, slumped unconscious and bleeding in the driver’s seat of a red Cadillac automobile. Wharf was pronounced dead at 10:40 P.M. An autopsy revealed nine stab wounds, including one penetrating the left lung at a depth of four inches and another piercing the heart at a depth of seven inches. The right rear pocket of the victim’s pants had been ripped open.
The Commonwealth presented extensive evidence indicating that the defendant committed the murder. Ronald Gray testified that he saw the defendant alone on Hadassah Way near Park Square in Boston on the night of the stabbing at approximately 8 P.M. Lori Pearlman testified that she was seated at a table in the living room of her apartment at 860 Beacon Street on the night of the stabbing. The table was located next to an open window overlooking the alley where the stabbing occurred. At approximately 9:30 P.M., she heard a loud voice from the alley yell out a few times, “Give me your money, you m—f—.” She telephoned the police and reported what she assumed was a robbery. While she was on the telephone, she heard a car horn sound continuously for approximately five seconds. She next saw someone with blond or light brown hair, wearing a brown leather jacket, run away from the building past parked cars in the alley.
On the same night, at approximately 10:15 P.M., James Ryan was seated at a shelter at the Brookline Village streetcar station. He saw a light-haired young man, carrying a brown leather jacket, walk along the trolley tracks, coming from the direction of the scene of the murder. The young man came into the shelter, sat down beside Ryan, and asked him for a match. Ryan, who noticed that the young man’s hand was covered with blood, asked him if he had cut himself. The young man replied that he had been in a fight and had stabbed someone approximately twenty times. Ryan and the young man spoke for about fifteen minutes and the young man told Ryan that his name was Greg. On the following day, Sunday, May 10, Ryan read an account of the murder in a newspaper. On Monday, May 11, Ryan telephoned the Boston police and told them of his meeting with the young man on the night of the stabbing. Ryan later identified a photograph of the defendant from an array of eleven photographs. The defendant’s fingerprints were found in and on the victim’s car.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The following facts were presented to the jury. On November 4, 1981, a group of hunters discovered a woman’s body in a wooded area about 150 feet from Route 93 in southern New Hampshire. The body was facing downward in a crucifix position and was naked from the waist down, except for panties which had been partially removed. There was evidence of animal damage on one of the legs and a furrow on the front of the neck. The body was later identified as that of Marion Palmariello of East Boston. She had been dead for two to three weeks.
Marion Palmariello was about four feet, eleven inches tall, weighed between one hundred and one hundred and ten pounds, and was estimated to be between fifty and sixty years of age. She lived at 59 Marion Street, a three-decker house in East Boston, with her son, the defendant Edward Palmariello, who was seventeen at the time of the murder in October, 1981. Palmariello and the codefendant, Bruce Chambers, had been friends for approximately one year at this time, seeing each other almost every day.
The Commonwealth introduced the following evidence of hostility between the defendants and Marion Palmariello. In January, 1980, during an argument with his mother, Palmariello waved an open switchblade knife at his mother. Palmariello threatened his mother “a lot” during 1980. They had several arguments in the period between November, 1980, and February, 1981; during one argument Palmariello stated, “If I had a knife, I’d kill you.” In April, 1981, Palmariello stated that he would like to have his mother “committed.” He said he would kill her if he couldn’t “get her committed” and that he “wouldn’t feel a bit of remorse.” In June, 1981, the mother of one of Palmariello’s girl friends discovered that her daughter had been living at the Palmariello house and went to take her daughter home. On this occasion, Palmariello yelled at his mother that he was going to kill her for telling the girl friend’s mother about her daughter. He also threw something at his mother. He then stated that “he wasn’t planning on killing her then, that he had to think about it, plan it, because he wasn’t going to go to jail for her or anybody else.” In the summer before the murder, Palmariello had an argument with his mother concerning money. Palmariello slapped her in the stomach, swore at her, and said, “Shut up or I’m going to cut you up and put you into the toilet bowl.” On September 21, 1981, Palmariello stated to his probation officer that “he could’t stand [his mother’s] nagging and that he was going to shut her up.” Finally, one or two weeks before the murder, the defendants were listening to music with a friend in Palmariello’s house. When Marion Palmariello yelled at her son, Chambers said, “I’d like to take his mother and tie her up and gag her and stick her on the first floor just to shut her up.” Palmariello responded to his comment by laughing. A witness testified that “[i]t didn’t seem to bother him at all.” This evidence of hostility between the defendants and the victim was introduced to show the defendants’ state of mind on October 18, 1981.
Chambers testified that on that day, he and Palmariello were painting the second floor walls and repairing the plaster on the third floor walls of the Palmariello house. They worked from approximately 7 P.M. to 8 P.M., on the third floor. When Chambers finished working, he walked into the kitchen, where the mother was watching television. Palmariello ended a telephone conversation and announced that he was taking some paint downstairs, contrary to his mother’s wishes. She said, “Eddie [Palmariello], don’t start,” and Chambers said, “I’ll hold her.” Chambers was standing behind her, holding a cord he had been using to measure the holes in the wall. He threw the cord over her head as she got up to get the paint. Chambers was “meaning to hold her,” and “meaning for [the cord] to go around her waist.” The cord was pulled out of Chambers’ hands as she was going forward. She fell, and her head hit the floor. After determining that she was dead, Palmariello suggested that they call the police, and Chambers said, “You’re just as much at fault as I am.”
There was considerable evidence of consciousness of guilt. Chambers testified that, after the murder, the defendants removed the victim’s jewelry to make it appear that she had been robbed, and they put her body in a box. They stole a car, placed the box in the car, and drove off on the highway. Eventually, they stopped, carried the body over a fence, and dragged it through the woods.
Several witnesses testified to statements by Palmariello that showed consciousness of guilt. In the period following his mother’s death, Palmariello stated that he did not know where his mother was, that she might be at her father’s house, in the hospital, or in New Hampshire. He also filed a missing person report with the police on October 23, and caused his probation officer to report the situation to the Department of Social Services.
There was testimony that on the day after the murder the defendants were in the company of Chambers’ sister and one of her friends at Chambers’ sister’s house. The friend, who was also a girl friend of Palmariello, testified that Chambers’ sister asked her, “Did they tell you what happened?” and that she answered, “Yes.” The witness testified that Chambers’ sister “said that they were crazy and that this is all we know about it and that we keep our mouth shut.” The witness also testified that later that day she was present in the Palmariello house with the defendants and that they were playing cards in the kitchen when she asked the defendants “where it had happened.” She told the jury that “they both” said that it had happened in the chair she was sitting in. The witness testified that she jumped up from the chair and that “they” laughed when she did so. She also said that Palmariello stated that Chambers had been “wicked nervous.” The witness further testified that Chambers then demonstrated “how he did it.” The witness showed the jury what Chambers did in giving that demonstration to her. She also testified that, when she asked if the victim had struggled, Palmariello said, “She didn’t know what hit her,” and Chambers “just went `Blah.'”
There was evidence that on November 7, the defendant Chambers, after learning that girl friends of the defendants knew about Palmariello’s mother, said to them, “You better keep your mouth shut or you won’t have a mouth to shut.” Later, when Chambers was alone with his girl friend, he stated that “he didn’t know why he did it and he wasn’t insane.” The next day, during an argument with his girl friend, Palmariello stated, “I know you know about what I did to my mother.”
There was testimony that on November 10, another girl friend of Palmariello discovered a strobe light at his house, which she had seen him handling the day before. Taped inside the strobe light box was a bag containing jewelry. When she later spoke with Palmariello about this jewelry, he said, “Well, don’t give it to nobody. Keep it, because it can get yourself into trouble. If you tell anybody you have it, you’re going to get yourself into trouble.” Some of this jewelry belonged to the victim.
Three medical experts testified as to the cause of the victim’s death. The doctor who performed the autopsy stated that the deceased had a furrow on her neck one-quarter inch wide and one-quarter inch deep, from ear to ear, with characteristics which are “consistent with a cord of some type.” Sustained pressure was required to create such a furrow. His opinion was that ligature strangulation was the cause of death. He also noted injuries to the victim’s forehead, chest, and neck, which were independent of the ligature injury and occurred prior to death. The defendants’ expert, while agreeing that sustained pressure had been applied to the ligature, would not express an opinion as to the cause of death because of three lung diseases which he said could have contributed to the victim’s death: emphysema, asthma, and pneumonia. The Commonwealth’s rebuttal expert testified that the victim died as a result of a ligature strangulation, and that the lung diseases merely hastened her death. He said that “a sustained, great force was applied on the neck.”
The SJC summarized the defendant’s confession as follows:
According to the report, the defendant initially denied that he had killed Bonnie Mitchell, the victim. He accounted for his whereabouts during the relevant time period in considerable detail. The report then states that the police told the defendant in the presence of his grandfather that the defendant was not telling the truth, and that several people had told the police that the defendant had shown them the victim’s body and had told them that he had killed her. The rest of the report is as follows: “We asked him to stop lying and tell us the truth. He then stated,
Yes, I killed her, I told her to stay out of my life but she wouldn't.'She had other girls beat up my girl.’
Sunday I thought about killing her and I thought of strangling her with a rope.'Sunday I found a rope at Cook Street Park and I was going to use it. I put it in my coat and took it home.’
“I got up at 7:45 A.M., took a bath and left the house about 9:00 A.M. or so and went to my mother’s house. On the way down I threw the rope away. I left my mother’s about 9:40 A.M. I walked to Frank’s house on Rock Avenue. My mother lives at 7 Essex Circle. It took me about 10 minutes to walk there. On the way I picked up another length of rope in a parking lot on Brownville Avenue. It was about two or two and half feet long. It was like clothes line rope. I put it in my pocket. I didn’t know if I was going to go through with it or not but I still had the rope. I had thrown the other rope away because I had changed my mind at that time.
“At Frank’s house I was talking with Billy and Melissa Bragen. Bill had some pot and we smoked it, Bill and I. Bonnie came and I asked her to go for a walk with me. I had decided to kill her, we went to the Pine Grove. Sunday I had thought about killing her at the Pine Grove because it was close. At the Pine Grove we walked to the little bathroom and she wanted to see what was inside. I knew the house was there from a while ago. She wanted to stay inside because she was cold. We were in there about 45 minutes talking about why she wanted to beat and kill Tracy. She told me that, `If she couldn’t have me no one could, and if she couldn’t beat them up she would get someone to do it for her.’ At that time she was sitting on the hopper and I was on the ledge above her with my feet on the opposite window and I was behind her, I had made up my mind to kill her, it was now or never. I took the rope out of my pocket and one foot on the hopper, my left, and my right knee in her back. I had one end of the rope in each hand and put it around her neck. I pulled the rope around her neck and held it for 3-4 minutes. She attempted to get her finger under the rope but couldn’t. She didn’t make any noise. I let go of the rope and she fell on the floor. The rope was still around her neck and I took the ends and tied them to the hopper seat. I did this because I read in a book that if you strangle someone and don’t hold it long enough they are just unconscious. So I thought if I tied the rope from her neck to the hopper and she woke up she would strangle herself. I wanted to make sure I killed her. I didn’t hate her, I just loved my girlfriend and I didn’t want to lose my baby.
“I told my friends that I killed her and they didn’t believe me. So I told them where the body was and they saw her, Tracy, Bill Newhall, Ted, Darryl. I went back to Tracy’s house and we met John Davis and I told him that I killed her. He asked me and I told him. Tracy told me that she felt sick.”
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On June 14, 1982, both the defendant and the victim were sixteen years old. The victim had sold some hashish to the defendant and the two of them went into the woods in Swansea to smoke the hashish together. At some point, the victim took out a knife and demanded that the defendant turn over his money. The defendant pulled out his own knife, which had “brass knuckles” attached to it. He punched the victim and, in so doing, cut his own thumb. He then stabbed the victim in the face. The victim tried to flee, but the defendant pursued her. He continued stabbing the victim all over her body, until the knife blade curled over. The defendant then kicked the victim several times and threw his knife into the woods. Before he left, the defendant took the victim’s “compact,” in which she had placed the money the defendant had given her for the hashish.
Over two years later, the victim’s skeletal remains were discovered, along with some clothing and personal items. The victim’s parents identified the items as those of their daughter. The skeletal remains were identified as those of the victim. Joseph Amaral, when he heard about the discovery of the victim’s remains, telephoned the police to report that he had found a knife in the same area. Amaral turned the knife over to the police and explained that he had had to straighten out the blade, which was bent like a fish hook when he found it.
In November of 1986, Karl Tyas contacted the police. Tyas was one of several people to whom the defendant had boasted about how he had killed a girl. Detective Robert Furtado of the Swansea police department and Sergeant Natale Lapriore of the State police then went to the defendant’s place of employment and asked the defendant if they could speak with him. The defendant agreed and accompanied the police to the Bristol district attorney’s office. The officers advised the defendant of his rights in accordance with Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). They then told the defendant that there was evidence linking him to the victim’s murder. The defendant denied that he was involved. Sergeant Lapriore then said, “Chris, she must have really pissed you off to do that to her.” The defendant said, “Yes, she did,” and then gave the officers a full account of the murder, as outlined above.
Lapriore and Furtado placed the defendant under arrest. They asked him if he would repeat his confession on videotape, and the defendant agreed. The officers again gave the defendant Miranda warnings and then videotaped his entire confession.
The following day, they obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s house. In the defendant’s bedroom, Lapriore discovered a compact. The victim’s stepsister and one of the victim’s friends both identified the compact as one that had belonged to the victim.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
In the early morning hours of July 24, 1982, an elderly brother and sister were murdered in their home in Stoughton. The victims, John J. Lucey and Esther L. King, were fatally wounded during an armed robbery. Ballistics evidence showed that the weapon used was one capable of firing .38 caliber ammunition, either a .38 or a .357 caliber weapon.
A few hours prior to the murders, the defendant was in his home in Stoughton with a friend, Darren Carey. Carey [Note 1] said that he arrived at the defendant’s home sometime after midnight on July 24, 1982. When Carey arrived, the defendant showed him a pair of car speakers which the defendant stated that he had taken “from a car up the street.” The defendant also produced a gun which he said he had stolen from the home of a police officer in Easton. [Note 2] Carey stated that the weapon he had seen the defendant with was a black revolver with a brown handle. Shortly after Carey arrived at the defendant’s home, the gun accidentally fired into the wall in the defendant’s bedroom.
In the early morning hours, Carey stated that he and the defendant went into the garage of a residence near the defendant’s home. There they found barbells and weights, which they decided to steal. The two men removed the weights to nearby woods. While Carey continued this process, the defendant went across the street and broke into two cars. Carey did not see the defendant steal anything from these cars. Shortly thereafter, Carey and the defendant went into the garage of the victims’ residence. Carey stated that the defendant tried to open a window at the front of the house. Carey told the defendant that there were people inside. According to Carey, the defendant stated that only one old man lived in the house. The defendant then made a punching motion and said, “One . . . and he’s out.”
The two men parted and Carey started toward his own home. He changed his mind and headed back to the hiding place and began assembling the weights. As he was assembling the weights, Carey saw the defendant walking up the street in the general direction of the victims’ home. Carey left the woods with the weights and went in the opposite direction from that which the defendant had taken.
At approximately 11:15 A.M. on July 24, 1982, victim King’s son in-law arrived at the victims’ home. The son-in-law testified that he found King lying face up in her blood-stained bed. The contents of her bureau drawers were strewn about the room. King was still alive at this time. The son-in-law then entered the bedroom of Lucey and found no apparent signs of life. The contents of Lucey’s bureau drawers were also strewn about his room. When the police and ambulance arrived, King was taken to a local hospital. King died shortly after her arrival at the hospital.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant was found guilty of the murder in the first degree of Donald Pinkham. The evidence showed that Pinkham was killed in Gloucester in the early hours of October 1, 1982. His body was badly burned, bruised, and beaten; part of his face was missing; and his head appeared to have been crushed. . . .
The defendant and the juvenile planned to rob the victim for his money. They killed him on a path, ironically known as “Dead Man’s Path,” near the railroad tracks. They set his body on fire. They struck his head with rocks causing seriously disfiguring injuries. They then went to the apartment of Jody Tyne, a friend of the defendant who was several years older than they. There the two made admissions, whose admissibility we discuss later. On Tyne’s order, the next day the defendant, admitting to nothing, led the police to the victim’s body. The defendant told his then girl friend that “they did it” because the juvenile wanted money. He admitted to kicking the victim and going “wild.” He made admissions to another woman who lived in the same development where he and Tyne also lived. He agreed with her to turn himself in to the police. There was testimony from various sources that the defendant had been drinking on the night of the murder. . . .
We review relevant portions of Tyne’s testimony. Between 2:20 A.M. and 2:30 A.M., of October 1, 1982, the defendant and the juvenile arrived outside Tyne’s first floor apartment in Maplewood Park in Gloucester. She let them in. The juvenile had blood on his clothes and on his hands, which he washed in a sink in the bathroom. The defendant had a bloody handprint on his wrist, blood on his fingernails, and spots of blood on his pants and sneakers. The three had a conversation in the parlor. The juvenile said that he beat the victim with rocks and told how he burned him. The defendant, who had apparently been crying since his arrival, continued to cry. The defendant made reference to a “Sweet Shop” where they said they went “for an alibi.” They both mentioned code names they had used to avoid detection and laughed about it. They said that they wanted to “roll” the victim because he had just received a check. The juvenile told the defendant that “he was in this with him whether he wanted to be or not.” In response the defendant cried. Asked if the defendant had been sober, Tyne replied that “[h]e was totally out of his mind.”
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
About 2 A.M. on August 2, 1983, the body of eleven year old Mary Ann Hanley was found in a wooded area of Ronan Park in the Dorchester section of Boston. The victim was dead, her shorts and underwear were down by one ankle, and her face and genitalia bloodied. About two and one-half months later, largely on the basis of recently disclosed testimony of one Kevin Gallagher who claimed to have been an eyewitness to the homicide, the defendant, Val Mayfield, was indicted for murder in the first degree and rape of a child under sixteen years of age. . . .
We start with an outline of relevant circumstances known to the police prior to the time the eyewitness Gallagher came forth with his description of the homicide. The defendant, the father of a child by a half-sister of the victim, lived with the victim and her family on Mt. Ida Road in Dorchester, not far from Ronan Park, a large park with several baseball fields, a basketball court, and tennis courts. On August 1, 1983, about 7 P.M., the defendant stole a gym bag belonging to one Ruiz. He took the bag to Ronan Park, removed from it sneakers, which he put on, and gave the bag and its remaining contents to others who were gathered in the area. Ruiz, who had discovered that Mayfield had taken his gym bag, went to the defendant’s residence, but the defendant was not there. He returned about 8:15 P.M., and spoke to the victim, who pointed out the defendant. Ruiz then confronted Mayfield, who surrendered the sneakers and told Ruiz what he had done with the bag and its contents.
Shortly thereafter a group of youths including the victim, Mayfield, and Gallagher gathered on the porch of a house across from the park. About 9 P.M., most of the group went to see a motion picture. Gallagher left with the group but did not go to the movies. About this time the victim and the defendant headed toward home in the opposite direction, but shortly the defendant returned to the porch for a brief time. . . .
After separating that night from the group of youths who were headed to a motion picture, Gallagher started to walk home, but changed his mind and went to Ronan Park. On entering the park, Gallagher saw the defendant and the victim. He asked them where they were going, and the defendant said, “I have to do something. Well, you’d better come along, too.” The three went to the tunnel-like area of the park.
When they arrived there the defendant asked the victim why earlier that night she had identified him to Ruiz. She replied that she had not done so. The defendant began to hit her about the face. She started to cry and called our for help. Gallagher tried to intervene but desisted when the defendant told him to remain where he was standing. He made no further effort to aid the victim.
The defendant knocked the victim to the ground, face down by a tree limb. When on his demand the victim did not get up, he grabbed her by the hair and smashed her face on the tree limb four times. The victim moved no more. The defendant turned her on her back and placed his fingers under her nose to see if she was breathing. He then took her pants down and raped her. He turned to Gallagher and said that he would kill Gallagher and his family if Gallagher told anybody what had happened. He also told Gallagher that he had killed the victim because she was a “rat” and that he had raped her to throw suspicion off himself. Gallagher then went home. Several days later, the defendant threatened him with death if he revealed that the defendant had killed the victim.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On February 2, 1985, the defendant, who was approximately three weeks short of his seventeenth birthday, met with several friends at an apartment in Lawrence. The defendant had a handgun. He and two friends agreed “to do a cab and get some money.” After some delay, someone called a taxicab company and ordered a taxicab. A taxicab arrived. One of the two friends served as a lookout. The other entered the passenger side of the front seat of the taxicab and seized the ignition keys. The defendant approached the driver’s side of the taxicab, pointed the gun at the driver, and demanded his money. The driver gave the defendant “a stack of ones.” The defendant then shot the taxicab driver six times from close range. After the shooting, the defendant divided the money with his companions. He showed the empty gun to several people and admitted to at least six friends or acquaintances that he had shot the taxicab driver.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the night of June 19, 1985, the defendant Norman Hawkesworth met with three other juveniles, his sister Regina Hawkesworth, Kristen St. Onge, and Jody Mendez. They met at Hawkesworth’s home in a housing complex in the Hyde Park section of Boston. After some discussion, Mendez suggested that the group should steal an automobile. Mendez proposed the following ruse: one of the boys would lie in the roadway pretending to be injured, the two girls would flag down a passing motorist, and then the group would overpower the motorist and take the automobile. The group agreed to this plan. Shortly thereafter, John Morgan arrived, and agreed to participate. Hawkesworth produced a can of mace and distributed additional weapons: a handgun to Mendez, knives to the girls, and a billy club to Morgan. Morgan responded, “Good, I get to smash somebody’s — head.”
All five participants then walked to an unlighted section of West Boundary Road in the West Roxbury section of Boston. Along the way, Mendez fired the gun into the ground. Hawkesworth, visibly upset, exclaimed, “Damn, I only got one bullet left.”
Upon finding a suitable site, the participants assumed their positions. Mendez lay in the roadway with the pistol concealed; the girls stood over him and attempted to flag down a motorist; and Hawkesworth and Morgan hid in the woods on either side of the roadway. One or two motorists stopped and asked whether everything was all right; but, because the automobiles each had several passengers, Mendez stood up and said that he was fine. Hawkesworth then exchanged places and weapons with Mendez.
The victim, Stephen Lanigan, was driving alone when he saw Hawkesworth and the girls in the roadway. He stopped at the roadside, left his automobile, approached Hawkesworth and the girls, and asked if everything was all right. Hawkesworth jumped up, pointed the gun at Lanigan, and said, “Freeze, — or I’ll shoot.” Lanigan then turned and ran toward his automobile; Hawkesworth pursued. As Lanigan was entering his automobile, Hawkesworth shot him in the back, from less than a yard away.
Lanigan drove his automobile a short distance and crashed into a signal box. Shortly thereafter, after being taken to Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, Lanigan was pronounced dead. Hawkesworth, meanwhile, had told everyone to run. He, Mendez, and the girls ran into the woods together. Morgan ran along West Boundary Road.
In a companion case, the SJC offered a short factual summary as follows:
On February 19, 1986, at approximately 9:30 P.M., a double homicide occurred in a park in Boston’s North End. The defendant was arrested on February 23, 1986, and arraigned the next day on complaints charging him and two codefendants with the February 19 murders. At trial, the Commonwealth’s proof indicated that the defendant, along with codefendants Frank DiBenedetto and Louis Costa, killed John Bottari and Frank Angelo Chiuchiolo by firing weapons repeatedly into their bodies at close range. Two witnesses identified the defendant as one of the assailants. One, Joseph Schindler, testified that he observed part of the incident from his apartment window.
The other witness, Richard Storella, knew the defendants as well as the men who were killed. In a deposition before the Boston Municipal Court judge, Storella said that the victims had planned to rob DiBenedetto. Storella said that he drove with the two victims to the park and observed the killings while standing outside of the park.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the evening of July 29, 1986, the defendant and Michael Eagles entered the Middleborough trailer home of the victim, seventy-nine year old Lewis Jennings. The victim, who lived alone, kept cash in his trailer (denominations of one hundred, fifty, and twenty dollar bills). Late the next day, the victim’s body was discovered. He had been beaten savagely with a blunt force object or instrument and strangled to death with his own pillow case. An autopsy revealed that the victim’s spine, several ribs, and bones in his neck were fractured. The injuries to the victim’s face and head were extensive, and he also had numerous lacerations on his right hand indicative of defensive wounds. The victim was alive at the time the injuries were inflicted. An undetermined amount of money, a shotgun, and various items of personal property were stolen from the victim’s home.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
At approximately 5 P.M. on December 1, 1987, Andrew Gustafson discovered the body of his wife, Priscilla Gustafson, on the bed in the master bedroom of the family’s home in Townsend. She died as a result of two shots at close range with a .22 caliber firearm. The shots were fired through a pillow which lay on top of the victim’s head. Gustafson telephoned the police immediately, who, on arrival, discovered the bodies of Gustafson’s two children, William, five years old, and Abigail, almost eight years old. The police found William’s body face down in the tub in the upstairs bathroom. The police discovered Abigail’s body face down in the tub in the downstairs bathroom. The cause of death of both children was drowning. Additionally, Abigail suffered blunt trauma to the head and compression of the neck.
Karolyn LeClaire, a chemist with the Department of Public Safety, found semen and sperm cells near one corner of the bedspread, and a portion of a condom on the floor beside the bed. In the bedroom closet, LeClaire found a knotted brown sock dampened with saliva, consistent with having been used as a gag. She also found seven “ligatures” — a necktie, a sock, stockings, and pantyhose which had been knotted and cut. In the bedroom, police found a nearly full bottle of beer, that apparently had been taken from the Gustafson refrigerator. In the kitchen wastebasket, police found several pieces of paper which were torn from the pages of a pornographic magazine.
The defendant lived with his family in October, 1987. The evidence showed that the defendant engaged in a series of daytime burglaries in the neighborhood, including a burglary of the Gustafson home in November, 1987. On October 14, 1987, between 12 P.M. and 2:15 P.M., someone broke into 38 Elm Street, the home of Raymond Pindell and his family. [Note 1] Two Ruger .22 caliber guns and their holsters were stolen, as was a sizable amount of cash. Approximately three weeks later, the defendant’s stepfather discovered one of Pindell’s stolen guns and its holster in the defendant’s laundry basket. When confronted by his parents, the defendant claimed he had obtained the gun a year earlier from Westminster. The second of the two firearms stolen from the Pindell house later proved to be the weapon used to kill Priscilla Gustafson. During this same time period, the defendant’s brother, Stephen LaPlante, and Michael Polowski both saw the defendant with a few hundred dollars in cash, although the defendant was unemployed at the time.
On November 16, 1987, between 11:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M., someone broke into the Gustafson home. Among other things, the thief took a cordless telephone, two cable television boxes, a cable television remote control device, and some coins from a Liberty silver dollar collection. The defendant placed the Gustafsons’ cordless telephone and a cable box in his brother’s tool cabinet. The defendant told his brother that he was putting them there to prevent his parents from seeing them. At that time, the defendant’s brother also saw the defendant with some silver coins similar to those re-ported missing from the Gustafson home, including a Statue of Liberty coin in a box.
During this period, the defendant asked both his brother and Polowski for bullets. The defendant told them he wanted to make a large bullet and sell it. Toward the end of November, Polowski gave the de-fendant a number of .22 caliber bullets from a carton he owned. Polowski gave the remaining bullets to a coworker. Subsequent ballistics tests and laboratory analysis of the remaining bullets revealed that they were the same brand, caliber class, and casing composition of the ones used in the murder of Priscilla Gustafson.
The Commonwealth also linked the defendant to the murders through physical evidence. Laboratory analysis of the defendant’s blood revealed that he is a “Type A secretor” — the same status of the semen stain discovered on the bedspread where Priscilla Gustafson’s body was found. Laboratory analysis also revealed that fibers, bearing the same microscopic and optical characteristics as a fiber sample taken from a shirt located in the woods were found (1) on the clothing worn by the defendant on the day of the murders; (2) on the socks found in his bedroom; (3) on the belt found with the murder weapon; and (4) in three places at the murder scene. In addition, fiber samples taken from the sock believed to be used to gag Priscilla Gustafson matched samples found on the gray shirt worn by the defendant on the day of the murders.
The Commonwealth offered evidence of consciousness of guilt. The defendant left his home on the evening of December 2, 1987, after State police arrived and asked to speak with him. The next afternoon, the defendant unlawfully entered two homes in Pepperell, stole a .32 caliber revolver, and unsuccessfully tried to gain admittance into a third home. At the home of Pamela Makela in Pepperell, the defendant ordered Makela at gunpoint to drive him in her van to Fitchburg. Makela jumped out of the van, and the defendant continued on in her van. The defendant was arrested in an Ayer industrial park dumpster. At police barracks, while searching the defendant, police found a loaded .32 caliber revolver hidden in the defendant’s underwear, and a .32 caliber bullet inside his right sneaker.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On December 26, 1987, the defendant hosted a small gathering of his friends at the Saugus apartment that he shared with his father and sister. The defendant’s father had gone out for the evening. Along with several of his friends, the defendant was drinking beer. In addition, the defendant was smoking marihuana and was ingesting both Xanax and mescaline. The party lasted for several hours until approximately 11 P.M. when the defendant and his friends left the apartment. Soon thereafter, the defendant’s father returned to the apartment. When the defendant returned alone at midnight, he proceeded to argue with his father regarding the defendant’s drug and alcohol abuse. The argument escalated into a physical altercation and the defendant’s father ordered him to leave. The defendant, however, refused. Eventually, the defendant’s father physically removed him from the apartment.
The defendant then walked across the street from his own apartment to the victim’s home. The victim was an eighty-seven year old widow who lived alone. The defendant had the intention of breaking into the victim’s home in order to steal some items and money. The defendant gained entry into the victim’s home by breaking a window at the rear of the house. The defendant first went into the kitchen where he ate a piece of pie, drank some vodka, and ripped a telephone from the wall. The defendant also smoked several filtered Camel brand cigarettes, discarding the cigarette butts and matches on the floor. He then climbed the stairs to the second floor and entered the victim’s bedroom. Seeing the victim lying in her bed, he began to stab her with a butcher knife. The defendant stabbed the victim eight times in her head, chest, abdomen, upper arms, and hands. During the course of the attack, the defendant perforated the victim’s bedspread, blanket, top sheet, and nightgown. After he had finished stabbing the victim, the defendant smoked another cigarette and extinguished it on the victim’s forehead.
The defendant then gathered several items from the victim’s home. Among other things, the defendant stole a small television set, a pair of binoculars, an alarm clock, and two bottles of prescription drugs. The defendant secreted these items to a wooded area across the street from the victim’s house. The defendant then returned home.
When he arrived at his apartment at approximately 2 A.M. on December 27, the defendant and his father resumed arguing. The defendant’s father summoned the Saugus police department and requested that they take his son into protective custody. After several minutes’ discussion between several Saugus police officers and the defendant’s father, the defendant voluntarily agreed to spend the night at the police station. At the time the defendant arrived at the police station, the police officers were unaware that the victim had been killed and that the defendant had killed her. Later that morning, however, the victim’s son-in-law alerted the police that the victim had been killed. Based on information that they had gathered both at the crime scene and at the police station, the police arrested the defendant on a juvenile complaint at the Saugus police station early on the afternoon of December 27.
The SJC summarized the case (in an opinion rendered at an earlier procedural stage) as follows:
On the evening of September 18, 1988, the Lowell police found the body of a homeless man, in a pool of blood under the porch of a building located near the parking lot of the Lowell District Court. The seventy-four year old victim, Louis Pozyck, had been stabbed repeatedly. He was pronounced dead by a Middlesex County medical examiner at 11:55 P.M.
The police received information which led them to the home of the petitioner, who was sixteen years old at the time. The petitioner and his mother accompanied the officers to the police station, where they were apprised of their rights. The petitioner gave two statements, the second of which he said was more accurate. What follows is a summary of the second statement.
The petitioner left his house at approximately 5 P.M. on September 18, 1988, carrying a “butterfly knife.” Later in the evening, after spending some time with some friends and then with his mother, he went downtown to look for a friend. He walked down a driveway near the court house, which he used as a short cut to a parking lot where some of his friends often gathered. At the end of the driveway, he saw a maroon motorcycle under the rear porch of a building. He walked over to look at the motorcycle and, while looking at it, heard a man tell him to “get lost.” He looked around and saw a man lying against the building, under the porch. The petitioner told the man (the victim) to “shut up,” and the victim said something to the effect of “shut up” or “get out of here,” and called the petitioner a “punk.” The petitioner walked over and kicked the victim in the face about four times. The victim started to say something else, and the petitioner took his knife out of his pocket. He held the knife in his right hand and told the victim to shut up or he would stab him. The victim mumbled something which sounded like “go ahead.” He was still on the ground. The petitioner stabbed the victim three times.
The petitioner then ran to an alley across the street from the parking lot. He put the knife back in his pocket and went over to the parking lot, where some youths were gathered. The petitioner took two of his companions aside and told them what he had done. He knew that the victim was still alive because he was moving when he last saw him. One of his friends did not want to be involved, but the other, identified only as Mike, told the petitioner that he should return to the scene and kill the victim so that he would not tell the police who had stabbed him. The petitioner hesitated, but Mike and another unidentified youth started walking toward the scene, so the petitioner went with them and showed them where the victim was lying. The victim was moving around, making noises, and bleeding from the nose. The petitioner opened the victim’s shirt to determine how badly injured he was. The petitioner was unable to determine if the victim was mortally wounded. Mike had pulled out a kitchen knife which was bigger than the butterfly knife. Mike said, “Here’s the knife, do it.” The petitioner took the knife and stabbed the victim a number of times. According to the petitioner, “I stabbed him because Mike and I went back there to kill him, and after I looked at him Mike gave me the knife, so I did it.”
Mike suggested that the petitioner set the victim on fire. The other companion lit a match, set a match book on fire and threw matches at the victim, but they landed on the ground to the right and burned out. The victim was still making noises, and the petitioner thought he was still alive “so [he] stabbed him again so he would die.” The petitioner gave the knife back to Mike and they ran behind a nearby hotel. Soon after washing his hands in a nearby canal, the petitioner went home. The police arrived at his house that night.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant, Joshua Halbert, was convicted of murder in the first degree by special verdicts on theories of deliberate premeditation, extreme atrocity or cruelty, and felony-murder by joint venture. The defendant appeals on the ground that the judge improperly instructed the jury that they could not consider voluntary intoxication in determining whether the defendant had the specific intent required for the crime of murder. In addition, the defendant seeks a new trial or reduction of the verdict pursuant to G. L. c. 278, Section 33E (1990 ed.), on the ground that the judge erred in refusing to instruct the jury on manslaughter where there was evidence of provocation. We affirm.
The jury could have found the following facts. [Note 1] At around 10 P.M. on September 28, 1988, the defendant met his friends Kevin Pierce and John Nichypour. Pierce asked the defendant, “Are you ready to roll a fag tonight?” The defendant responded, “Why not? It’s been a while. As long as he doesn’t get severely hurt.” Pierce telephoned the victim, a thirty-eight year old man whom he apparently knew. The victim picked up the three men and drove them back to his apartment.
After a short time at the apartment (during which the defendant drank beer and Southern Comfort whisky), the defendant and Nichypour left to buy cigarettes. When they returned at around 11 P.M., Pierce took the defendant aside and informed him that the victim had grabbed Pierce’s penis while the defendant and Nichypour were out. The defendant asked, “Do you want me to give him a beating?” Pierce instead proposed that they kill the victim. The defendant initially refused, but when Pierce asked the defendant if he was “chicken,” the defendant said he was not.
The group reassembled in the apartment where they watched portions of an old movie and of a pornographic film. The defendant stated that he was “pretty much hammered” at this point. Pierce told the victim that Pierce and his friends were homosexuals. The victim asked the defendant, “Josh, what do you want to do?” The defendant said, “I’m not into that stuff.” Pierce then grabbed the victim, locking an arm around his neck in a “sleeper” hold and forcing the victim’s face into a sofa. While Pierce choked the victim in this manner, the defendant kicked and punched him in the testicles saying, “You’re going to get hurt because I’m not queer.” The defendant slashed the victim’s neck twice with a razor blade he was carrying, then hit the victim on the head twice with a bottle. After releasing his hold on the victim’s neck, Pierce stabbed him in the head, through the left temple, with a steak knife he found in the victim’s kitchen. Seeing the victim convulsing, the defendant began to cry and said, “He’s suffering.” The defendant retrieved another steak knife from the kitchen, and with it Pierce stabbed the victim in the head a second time, again forcing the knife through the left temple. The defendant stated that the victim was dead, but Pierce continued to kick him in the face saying, “Die faggot. Die faggot.” Pierce, Nichypour, and the defendant then cleaned their fingerprints from everything they had touched, and left. Nichypour took with him a sheet of thirty-two uncut, one-dollar bills that hung framed on the victim’s wall, and Pierce stole a wooden box containing commemorative coins.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
We set forth the facts in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Burnett, 417 Mass. 740 , 741 (1994). On September 28, 1988, the defendant telephoned Kevin Pierce. The two men talked about “rolling a fag” that evening. Shortly after their telephone conversation, the defendant and Pierce went to a restaurant in Gloucester, accompanied by Joshua Halbert. Pierce then telephoned the victim, David McLane. Pierce told the defendant and Halbert that McLane was homosexual.
McLane picked the three men up and drove them to his apartment in Gloucester. The four men drank some alcohol and watched pornographic movies at McLane’s apartment. During the movie, Halbert and Pierce went into the kitchen. The defendant remained in the living room with McLane. When Halbert and Pierce reentered the room, Pierce said that he, Halbert, and the defendant were homosexual. McLane, who was sitting on a couch still watching the television, asked Halbert, “Josh, what do you want to do?” Interpreting the question as a sexual overture, Halbert responded, “I’m not into that stuff.” Then Pierce approached the victim from behind and locked his arm around McLane’s neck. Pierce choked the victim until the victim’s face turned purple. During this struggle, the defendant “threw one punch” at the victim, and Halbert clubbed the victim in the head and groin with an empty whisky bottle stating, “You’re going to get hurt, cause I’m not queer.”
Halbert then pulled a razor blade from his back pocket and cut the victim’s throat several times. Pierce went into the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife, which he thrust into the victim’s left temple. Halbert ran to the kitchen and grabbed a second knife, which he placed on the couch. Either Pierce or Halbert picked up the second knife and thrust that through the victim’s left temple. One knife was flush with the skin surface with its tip protruding from the right side of the victim’s neck; the other knife was out approximately three inches from the skin on the left temple. Pierce repeatedly said, “Die faggot. Die faggot.” The victim was “making strange noises.” Pierce told the defendant to put a cushion over the victim’s face to keep him quiet and muffle his moans. In compliance, the defendant placed a couch cushion over the victim’s face. All three men then knelt down in the victim’s blood and prayed for forgiveness.
After the attack, the defendant, Pierce, and Halbert took a framed, uncut sheet of dollar bills and a box of coins from the apartment. The defendant took a share of the stolen property. The three men also tried to remove any fingerprints they left in the apartment. One of the men found the victim’s automobile keys. After being asked by Pierce and Halbert to drive the victim’s automobile, the defendant got into the driver’s seat but could not start the automobile. The three men then left the scene on foot. Several days after the killing the police arrested the defendant. The defendant gave a signed statement to the police. Occult blood was found on the defendant’s hands, forearms, and the pants he wore on the night of the killing, as well as on the driver’s side of the victim’s automobile.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
Francisco Fernandez, Junior Fernandez’s father, arrived at the Fernandez market at about 10 P.M., February 17, 1990, to help close the market for the night. He noticed two young men sitting on the steps of the house next to the market. He recognized one of them, the defendant, as a frequent customer of the market. At about 10:30 P.M., Junior Fernandez’s uncle, Francisco Rodriguez (Rodriguez) left the market and crossed the street to his Thunderbird automobile. He noticed two young men on the porch of the house next to the market. One of them was the defendant, whom he had seen in the market several times. A few minutes later, while Rodriguez was still in his vehicle, Junior Fernandez left the market and crossed the street to another automobile, a Datsun which his brother. William Fernandez, owned. The Datsun was parked directly behind the Thunderbird. When Junior Fernandez started the Datsun, the defendant and his companion walked across the street, the defendant going in front of the Thunderbird and his companion going behind the Datsun. The defendant propped himself up on the front bumper of the Thunderbird and pointed a gun at Rodriguez, who quickly laid down on the front seat. Rodriguez heard three shots and his windshield was shattered. Rodriguez crawled from his vehicle toward the market, still hearing gunshots behind him. When the gunshots had stopped, Rodriguez went to the Datsun and found Junior Fernandez bleeding from a bullet wound in his head. Junior Fernandez died soon afterwards.
Shortly before the killing, William Fernandez, Junior Fernandez’s brother and the owner of the vehicle in which Junior Fernandez was killed, had been summoned to testify at the trial of a person who had been accused of shooting an other man in front of the Fernandez market in March, 1989. That trial was scheduled for late February, 1990, just a few days after the shooting of Junior Fernandez. William Fernandez intended to identify the assailant in that case.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The jury could have found that on March 13, 1990, the victim was killed by a gunshot blast to her head while she was working as a clerk at a liquor store in the Dorchester section of Boston. A customer who had left the store saw two men running from the direction of the store. Police officers on patrol saw Adams leaving the store. When approached by the officers, Adams ran and then dropped a bag holding a container of coins and a few dollar bills. One of the officers saw Adams reach into his pants and pull out what appeared to be a weapon. After a chase, Adams was caught and arrested. The weapon Adams had been carrying was seized. That weapon was a .22 caliber semiautomatic rifle, with its stock cut off and its barrel shortened, so that the rifle’s over-all length measured about twenty-two inches. Adams gave the police a statement that admitted his involvement in the crime, but identified the defendant as the mastermind of the venture. Commonwealth v. Adams, 416 Mass. 55 , 56-57 (1993). Two days later, the defendant was found by the police hiding in a closet in a Dorchester apartment, and he was arrested.
(b) After his arrest, the defendant gave the police a statement. The defendant admitted that he had gone with Adams to hold up the store; that he (the defendant) had loaded the rifle and given it to Adams before they reached the store, that he (the defendant) had gone into the store first to see if there were surveillance cameras inside; that he (the defendant) had tried to open the cash register, but could not do so; and that, after the victim was shot, Adams grabbed a container of coins from the counter, put the rifle inside his pants, and they both ran from the store. In his statement, the defendant tried to make it appear that Adams had badgered him into participating in the holdup; that the victim had been shot by accident; that Adams, not he, had killed the victim; and that, throughout, he had been only a reluctant follower of Adams. The defendant’s statement was tape recorded and played in court for the jury. Additionally, the police videotaped the defendant to depict how he appeared after his statement had been recorded.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the night of June 2, 1990, and into the early morning hours of June 3, 1990, a group of five young men were gathered on the porch of a house at 7 Mount Everett Street in the Dorchester section of Boston. They had walked to a nearby Chinese restaurant and bought food. On the way back from the restaurant, a small red automobile with the codefendant Brooks in the passenger seat slowly passed the group twice. As the men socialized on the porch, the same red automobile passed the house. Shortly thereafter, three men wearing hooded sweatshirts and identified as the codefendant Brooks, the defendant, and one Michael Osborne, approached the house from the direction the red automobile had taken and stood on the sidewalk in front of the porch. Ryan Moore was on the porch and saw the defendant point a gun and begin shooting toward the porch. In the gunfire that followed, the victim was killed and two other men were wounded. After the shooting, a witness who lived near 7 Mount Everett Street saw three men rush to get into a small red automobile that had the engine running; one of the men wearing a hooded sweatshirt yelled, “Hurry up, let’s get the heck out.” The red automobile, which had been stolen, was later recovered by the police. Two fingerprints found on the automobile were later identified as the defendant’s. Osborne’s fingerprints were also found on the automobile.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant, age fifteen years at the time of the incident, and seven companions were drinking beer together on the evening of October 31, 1990. A short time later, someone suggested that they “go across the field and rob some prostitutes.” The defendant agreed, and the group left the house and began walking toward Franklin Field in the Dorchester section of Boston. The eight males split into two groups to look for prostitutes. The defendant was part of the group that initially identified and chased Kimberly Rae Harbour, caught her, and carried her to a ditch in Franklin Field. The defendant helped to rip off Harbour’s clothing, which the group later took away with them, and was the second male in the group to rape her. The defendant was also the second of the group to stab Harbour, and it was estimated that the defendant stabbed her ten times, stating at one point, “look how her skin cuts.” The defendant also participated in assaulting Harbour during the attack, and he kicked her in the head. Harbour died from the assault, having suffered 132 stab wounds, at least eighteen blunt-force injuries, and extensive bleeding.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
Jamie Fuller, who was sixteen years old at the time of the incident, brutally killed his fourteen year old girl friend on August 23, 1991. At trial it was not disputed that Jamie Fuller had killed the victim. The principal focus of the evidence offered at trial, particularly the evidence regarding his statements and actions in the days before and after the killing, was directed to the defendant’s frame of mind and his responsibility for his actions.
The defendant and the victim had had an intense and troubled romantic relationship for two years preceding the killing. In the last year each had dated other people, and this increased the tension between them. Fuller spoke several times of killing the victim, to her and to others. In the months before the killing, he had discussed with his friends ways for the victim to procure an abortion without her having to obtain parental consent, having someone beat Amy so as to cause a miscarriage, or having her killed. The day before the killing the victim had taken a trip to Gloucester with two girls and two boys. When the defendant learned about this he is reported to have said, “I’m getting sick of this. I swear I’m going to kill her. . . . This shit’s got to stop. . . . She won’t be around to go out with anyone any more. . . . I’m going to fucking kill her.” The next morning he called her repeatedly and insisted that she come to his house to meet him. On the day of the killing, before she arrived, the defendant met Dominic Sciola and later Mark DeMeule. Sciola testified that the defendant said he was going to kill the victim and that he invited Sciola to come along. He later told Mark DeMeule the same thing. When DeMeule taunted him that he “didn’t have the balls to do” it, the defendant replied, “You’ll see.”
The defendant and his two friends met the victim. They were joined by Michael Maillet and briefly by Scott Ward. This group walked out of the defendant’s house and along a path into a field. The defendant and the victim separated from the others. The others heard screams, and when the defendant rejoined them he said, “It’s done.” He was bloody and had “a smirk on his face.” He showed the others his knife and said it had broken during the attack. He also said to DeMeule, “The bitch shouldn’t have messed with me.” DeMeule testified that as the group walked away from the scene Fuller described how he had killed the victim. Fuller reported to the group that “he placed his hand over her mouth and said,
I love you,' and then stabbed her in the stomach and then got behind her and pushed [so that] he could feel the point [of the knife] hit his stomach. Then he . . . stabbed her in the back and she had tried to pull away and she bit . . . his hand and then she screamed. . . . [S]he tried to run and he grabbed her by her hair and pulled her back and covered her mouth again and then cut her throat. . . . When she was on the ground . . . she kept saying,I love you, Jamie,’ and she was gargling on her own blood and he said it pissed him off so he stomped on her head.”
There was further testimony about Fuller’s conduct after the killing. At Sciola’s house he washed the blood off his arms, drank red Kool-Aid because it was “right for the occasion,” took Maillet to see the body, and then warned his companions that they would “be next” if they “were to say anything.” Later that day, Fuller led his friends in the task of disposing of the victim’s body. They obtained two trash bags, two cinder blocks, and lobster line (which would not fray in the water), and he and Maillet threw the weighted body into Shoe Pond. Thereafter, he denied knowing the victim’s whereabouts to the police and to his friends and joined in searching for her. Finally, on August 28, five days after the killing, Maillet led the police to the victim’s body, and Fuller was arrested. At the time of his arrest, he “put on a half-smile smirk and began to chuckle.” During questioning Fuller was calm and accused his friends of killing her.
At trial, the defense made a convincing showing — principally through cross-examination of the Commonwealth’s witnesses — that for some time Fuller had been using steroids. He had been small and shy, but one and one-half years prior to the killing he grew quickly and gained some thirty pounds. He began to drink “all the time” and became quarrelsome and aggressive. There was testimony from several witnesses that they had seen him buying what they thought to be steroids and that they had seen him with pills, vials, and hypodermic needles. One witness testified that she had provided Fuller at his request with a hypodermic needle. There was also testimony that his buttocks were sore “[b]ecause of the needle.”
Three experts — two psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist — testified on Fuller’s behalf. Dr. John Thomas Grisso, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts, had been appointed by the Department of Youth Services to perform a court-ordered evaluation of Fuller. Fuller had told Grisso about using alcohol and steroids since the age of fourteen years. Based, among other things, on early childhood factors, including the neglect Jamie Fuller had suffered as a child, the abandonment of the family by his father, and his mother’s alcoholism and depression, Dr. Grisso testified that Fuller suffered from dysthymia, “a long term, continual lower-level depression.” Together with his alcohol consumption this “substantially impaired his ability to appreciate the wrongfulness” of his conduct. Dr. Grisso disclaimed any opinion regarding the effects of steroid use on Fuller’s mood, behavior, or mental capacity. On cross-examination, Dr. Grisso conceded that he did not have an opinion “as to whether . . . by reason of mental disease or defect [the defendant] lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of killing [the victim].” Ultimately, Dr. Grisso testified that Fuller’s mental disease or defect substantially impaired his ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct, but that Fuller was capable of forming the specific intent to kill.
Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, provided the principal testimony regarding Fuller’s anabolic steroid use. His physical examination of Fuller confirmed the conclusion, suggested by Fuller’s rapid weight gain, that Fuller had been using steroids. He described the psychiatric effects of steroid use and of what he called steroid intoxication. Steroids may cause increased aggression, a brooding irritability, and while they act as an antidepressant, discontinuing their use may result in a rebound depression. He also opined that Fuller was suffering from alcohol dependence and major depressive illness. Based on Fuller’s statement to him that he had last taken steroids forty-eight hours before the killing, Dr. Pope stated that “particularly because of [the defendant’s] intoxication with the steroids, plus an additional component contributed by the alcohol and the depressive illness, [the defendant was] rendered in a state where he was overwhelmed by a constant obsessional, irritable, jealous rage that he could not counteract in his mind, that he could not say no to, if you wish.” This was the basis of his conclusion that Fuller “in fact did lack substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.”
Dr. Marc A. Whaley, a psychiatrist who had performed more than 500 forensic evaluations, testified that at the time of the killing Fuller was suffering from alcohol dependency and dysthymia, a depressive illness which he characterized as a chronic feeling of low self-esteem and self-hatred. Dr. Whaley testified that in his opinion Fuller “was indeed suffering from a mental disease that substantially impaired his capacity to weigh the pros and cons of carrying out his intended acts . . . [and] impaired . . . his capacity to fully appreciate the wrongful magnitude of [his] misconduct.” On cross-examination, however, Dr. Whaley stated that “my opinion would be that he did not lack the substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or control his conduct by reason of mental disease or defect.”
The Commonwealth’s rebuttal witness, Dr. Martin Kelly, a psychiatrist on the teaching staff of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a forensic psychiatrist, testified that in his opinion, on the basis of his review of the record and of the expert testimony in the case, Fuller did not suffer from major depression, which he characterized as a mental disease or defect, and that while Fuller abused alcohol he did not suffer from alcohol dependence. Dr. Kelly further testified that based on Fuller’s actions on the day of the killing, Fuller “did not describe symptoms . . . [consistent with what happens] when you take steroids. . . . I found no symptoms of either manic symptoms or depressive symptoms that might be related to steroid use . . . .”
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant and several other men, including Stephen “Stix” Fernandes, [Note 1] Jordan Martel Rice, Tim Lucas, Karl Moore, and others, went to a party in a Brockton home on the night of November 2, 1991. The defendant and a few of the others were seen carrying guns. Stix remarked that he was “sick of” the victim, Chris Bender, because the victim “had pulled a gun on him.” Stix said he wanted to go to the east side of Brockton and “[w]et them bitches up,” meaning that he wanted to kill the victim and his cousin, Jesse Starks.
In the early morning hours of November 3, the group, totaling ten, went in two cars to a housing project on the east side of Brockton. During the ride, the defendant and Moore loaded their guns while discussing their concerns about leaving fingerprints on the bullets. While the two drivers waited near the automobiles, the others, including Stix and the defendant, walked into the project, where they found the victim and Starks smoking marihuana in an automobile. They began shooting at the automobile, killing the victim. Starks was not harmed. The shooters ran back to the waiting automobiles immediately after the shots were fired and drove away.
The group drove to a convenience store. En route, the defendant asked, “Whose car was that?” Someone told him it was the victim’s, to which the defendant replied, “Well, then, [the victim] got his.” The defendant, who was holding some shell casings, expressed concern that his fingerprints might be on them. He also said that he wanted to wash gunpowder off his hands. When they arrived at the store, a police cruiser sped by with its lights and siren activated. The defendant told the others not to worry because no one had seen their faces, and that nobody knew his face because he was from Boston.
At the scene, police recovered spent shell casings and projectiles. It was determined that at least three guns were used in the shooting: two nine millimeter handguns and a .22 caliber handgun.
The day after the murder, the group met in Kevin Bynum’s bedroom. The defendant attended this meeting, but apparently did not say anything. Bynum’s roommate, William Faria, who was not involved in the shooting, tried to join them but was kept out of the bedroom. From the living room, he was able to overhear the group’s discussion about the previous night. Lucas told the others to blame the shooting on some people from Boston. Stix mentioned that Lucas’s girl friend was complaining about guns being in her house. Stix and Lucas suggested either dumping the guns in a river or taking them to Providence. The meeting ended when Stix and Lucas left to retrieve the guns.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the night of April 22, 1992, Charleston Sarjeant, with his wife and a friend, Eddy Toomer, entered the Tasty Chicken restaurant in the Dorchester section of Boston and ordered food. While Toomer, Sarjeant, Sarjeant’s wife, and a customer named Terrance Hudson waited for their orders, a group of young men that included the defendants gathered on a traffic island in front of the restaurant. Without provocation, the defendant Villaroel threw a beer bottle against the front of the restaurant and shouted, “Let’s shut this place down,” or words to that effect, and moved toward the restaurant. The group, including the defendants Duarte and Barros, followed.
Villaroel, carrying a large portable radio, sometimes described as a “boom box,” entered the restaurant ahead of the others and struck Sarjeant on the head with the radio, using enough force to draw blood. Within seconds, ten to twelve men encircled Sarjeant and began beating, punching, and kicking him. Villaroel pulled out a knife and began stabbing Sarjeant. During the repeated stabbing the other attackers continued to punch, kick, and stomp Sarjeant about his head and face until he eventually lost consciousness. Police and medical personnel arrived promptly but were unable to save Sarjeant’s life.
An autopsy revealed seven or more areas of blunt trauma to the head and face, nine stab wounds to the neck, back and thighs, and one cutting wound. The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy concluded that Sarjeant had died as a result of multiple stab wounds with blunt head trauma.
At the trial, several witnesses identified Villaroel, Duarte, and Barros as having participated in the attack on Sarjeant.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On September 18, 1992, Yngve Raustein was killed by being stabbed in the heart. Raustein and his friend, Arne Fredheim, both Norwegian citizens enrolled as students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), were walking along Memorial Drive in Cambridge on that date when they encountered the defendant and two companions, Alfredo Velez and a juvenile.
Velez, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in return for his testimony against the defendant and the juvenile, testified that he and the juvenile were drinking beer in an East Cambridge park that night when they decided to go to MIT and break into lockers to find money. [Note 1] On their way, they met the defendant and told him of their plan. [Note 2] The three then unsuccessfully attempted to rob a liquor store. Outside the store, the juvenile showed the defendant his switchblade knife. [Note 3] The three then returned to the store to rob it using the knife, but left because it was too crowded and they headed down Memorial Drive.
As they were walking, they passed Raustein and Fredheim. According to the defendant’s testimony, one of the students bumped into him. When the defendant asked them to apologize, the students said something in Norwegian. The defendant asked them what language they were speaking. The two replied and made another comment, which the defendant did not understand. The defendant became angry and punched Raustein in the face, causing him to fall. While Raustein was down, the juvenile stabbed him in the heart. At about the same time, Velez took Fredheim aside and stole his wallet. Velez then told Fredheim to run away. Fredheim asked Raustein what had happened, and Raustein said, “They took my wallet.”
Velez testified that he saw the juvenile standing over Raustein, but that he did not see the stabbing. The defendant testified that, after he punched Raustein, he stood facing away from him, attending to the pain in his hand and watching Velez rob Fredheim. He said he did not see the stabbing.
After the incident, all three ran across a bridge toward Kenmore Square. Velez testified that the defendant opened a wallet he had apparently taken from Raustein, took out thirty dollars, distributed it among them, and threw the wallet into the Charles River. When they reached Kenmore Square, the juvenile asked Velez or the defendant to bring him some napkins from a convenience store, which he used to wipe blood off the knife. The juvenile told the defendant that he had used the knife, and that he had wanted to see “what it was like to kill somebody.”
The defendant was indicted on one count of murder in the first degree in connection with the death of Raustein and two counts of armed robbery of both Raustein and Fredheim. At the end of the Commonwealth’s case, the defendant requested a required finding of not guilty on murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, and manslaughter. See Mass. R. Crim. P. 25 (a), 378 Mass. 896 (1979). The judge allowed the motion, but only for so much of the indictment as charged premeditated murder.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
According to testimony at the trial, the victim was killed on November 18, 1992. That day, Baldwin spoke several times on the telephone with a friend, Skye Albert-Hall (Hall), and told Hall in their last conversation that he wanted to die because the victim, a mutual friend, did not want to resume a dating relationship with him. At approximately 4:30 P.M. that afternoon, Baldwin arrived at Hall’s home in Groveland. At Baldwin’s insistence, Hall went to the victim’s house, a short distance away, and persuaded the victim to return to Hall’s house with him.
Hall retired upstairs, while the victim and Baldwin talked downstairs. The victim went upstairs twice and the second time told Hall that Baldwin had said he was going to kill her. Baldwin followed the victim into Hall’s room upstairs, carrying a metal baseball bat. As he approached the victim, Baldwin asked her several times if she was scared, and then swung the bat at her. She deflected the first blow, falling down. Hall attempted to grab the bat away from Baldwin, but Baldwin pushed him away. Baldwin then swung the bat twice more, hitting the victim in the head, causing fatal skull fractures. At the time of her death, the victim was fifteen years old and Baldwin was sixteen years old.
Following the fatal attack, Baldwin left Hall’s house and later appeared at the Pentucket Regional High School. He asked for an ambulance because he had swallowed “some pills” and had drunk “some wine.” He admitted to the principal and a teacher that he had killed the victim. Baldwin was arrested, charged, and then transported to Hale Hospital in Haverhill. His diagnosis there was a life-threatening ingestion of alcohol, Xanax, and Ibuprofen. While he was hospitalized, he admitted killing the victim to a nurse. Police officers on guard in the hospital room overheard Baldwin speak of the killing to his mother and to his father.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the evening of June 3, 1993, the defendant, two companions, and the victim purchased a case of beer and a bottle of vodka, and then proceeded to an area known as “Sharon Woods” in Sharon. The four spent the next two hours drinking in a secluded area of the woods near Gavin’s Pond. While still in the woods at approximately 9 P.M., the defendant and his two companions secretly made plans to “jump” the victim. Soon thereafter, the three attacked the victim by wrapping a jacket or shirt around the victim’s head, knocking him to the ground, and beating him with their fists and feet. They also removed the victim’s clothing as he lay motionless on the ground. One of the defendant’s companions then found a stick with which he subsequently penetrated the victim’s rectum and struck his testicles. For his part, the defendant conceded that he “just kept hitting” and “kicking” the victim. The attack lasted about thirty minutes. At this point, the victim’s face was still covered, and there were no signs that he was either conscious or breathing. The defendant’s two companions then dragged the victim to the edge of the pond and held his head under water for an extended period. The defendant checked the victim’s pulse and found none. Finally, one of the defendant’s companions stabbed the victim in the neck. They then covered the half-submerged body with a blanket and sticks from the woods, and the three left the scene.
After finding the victim’s body and learning that he had last been seen in the company of the defendant and his two companions, the police interviewed the defendant on the morning of Saturday, June 5. He told them at that time that, on the night of the victim’s disappearance, he and his two companions had dropped off the victim at 8 P.M. at Wrentham Center. He then left the police station. At approximately 6 P.M., however, the defendant voluntarily returned to the station, and was subsequently placed under arrest in connection with the victim’s death.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The jury would have been warranted in finding the following facts: on October 9, 1993, after arguing with his parents, the defendant became angry and decided to kill them. He broke into his grandfather’s quarters in the house that they shared and took a gun which he checked to be sure it was loaded. Later on in the day, while his father and his sister were about to leave in the family automobile, he asked to accompany them. He then went inside the house, shot his mother in the back of the head, returned to the waiting automobile, and shot his sister and his father each in the back of the head.
He drove the automobile to an area behind the house and moved his mother’s body into his sister’s room, locked the door, attempted to clean the bloodied areas, showered, and changed. With the bodies out of view he invited a female friend to visit him, which she did, and they spent the night together in his room.
The next day the defendant, his two aunts, and several cousins went to the Rochester police department to report the missing family members. Two hours later, the police went to the family’s house, noticed a broken window and numerous red stains throughout the house, which the defendant explained as being caused by his sister’s painting birdhouses red. After several hours the police found the victims’ bodies and soon thereafter the defendant admitted to being involved in the killing of his family and was placed under arrest.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the evening of October 31, 1993, the defendant and several others, including Fred Shinholster, met and, after discussing various criminal ventures, agreed on a plan to rob brothers Ron and Oliver Edwards. The group decided to use guns to force their intended victims to hand over money and drugs, and to divide the spoils among themselves.
The group was unsuccessful in locating Ron Edwards. Carrying guns and wearing Halloween costumes to disguise their appearance, the defendant and four others, again including Shinholster, then proceeded to the house of Eric Williams, through whom Oliver Edwards sold drugs. Williams paged Edwards when the group told Williams they wanted to purchase cocaine. When Edwards arrived at the home of Williams to deliver the cocaine, the defendant and one other robbed him. The defendant and his accomplices then walked Edwards and Williams back to Edwards’s house at gunpoint in order to force Edwards to hand over whatever drugs and money were there.
Inside Edwards’s house, the defendant, holding a semiautomatic gun, forced Williams into a closet, and demanded that Edwards and his friend, June Johnson, who had been sitting in the living room when they arrived, reveal the location of any drugs in the house. Edwards at first denied that there were any such drugs, but then told the defendant there were drugs in the basement. The defendant forced Edwards to the basement, and there shot him in the back with the semiautomatic weapon. The defendant returned upstairs, where Johnson had remained with one of the accomplices pointing a gun at her. Johnson pleaded with the defendant not to shoot her, telling him that she was pregnant, whereupon the defendant shot her in the stomach. The defendant returned to the basement, where he ordered one of the accomplices to shoot Edwards. As Edwards lay screaming on the floor, the defendant then put his gun to Edwards’s head and shot him. Edwards died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The defendant returned upstairs and opened the closet where he had imprisoned Williams. Saying, “It’s time for you to die,” the defendant shot Williams in the face. Williams pretended to be dead and the defendant closed the closet door. Another bullet was then fired through the closet door and into Williams’s back. The defendant returned to Johnson, who was trying to call the police, and shot her in the mouth, both arms, and the leg. Both Johnson and Williams survived. Later that evening the defendant told Shinholster that when he was standing over Edwards, all the defendant could think of was “how Oliver wouldn’t sell him no cocaine because of his ‘rep’ “; the defendant then stated that he had shot Edwards.
2. A competency hearing was held on the day before trial. The Commonwealth’s expert, Dr. Wesley Profit, opined that the defendant was competent to stand trial. He testified that shortly after the defendant was admitted to Bridgewater State Hospital, he had concluded, tentatively, that the defendant was not competent to stand trial. During a two-hour interview, the defendant did not answer basic demographic questions, such as his name and date of birth, did not seem to comprehend the nature of the questions he was asked, and appeared to be “profoundly retarded.” Dr. Profit said he was unable to identify the origin of the defendant’s behavior, and determined at that time that further diagnostic study was called for.
Dr. Profit thereafter learned that the behavior exhibited to him was inconsistent with the defendant’s response in a prior interview with a psychologist for the Hampden Division of the Juvenile Court Department shortly before the defendant was arrested for murder. In that interview the defendant had participated in the examination and had been able to respond to questions. In addition, Dr. Profit learned that the defendant had engaged in “ordinary” conversations with others at Bridgewater State Hospital, and did not interact in a way that was consistent with Dr. Profit’s observation of him.
The defendant was then examined by a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, who found “no evidence of pathology or neurological impairment.” In addition, a magnetic resonance imaging test disclosed “no organic impairment whatsoever.” Dr. Profit then interviewed the defendant again, and observed the defendant in the dining hall and treatment unit at Bridgewater State Hospital. It was his view that outside the interview setting, the defendant had no difficulty interacting with his peers and showed no indicia of psychosis. Dr. Profit ultimately concluded that the defendant was able to cooperate in a formal interview, but was unwilling to do so. Although the defendant was observed by another doctor who said that the defendant appeared to be “severely neurologically impaired,” Dr. Profit concluded that the defendant was a malingerer, and that there was no evidence that he was suffering from any kind of major mental illness or psychosis.
The Commonwealth also called to testify a Springfield detective who described the defendant’s behavior at the time of his arrest, and a police officer who had observed the defendant’s behavior in Springfield over the prior six years and who previously had arrested the defendant three times. Both testified about the normal responsiveness of the defendant when questioned by them, including at the time of his booking following the murder. They testified that the defendant had no difficulty understanding questions or communicating his views to them.
At the competency hearing the defendant’s expert witness, Dr. Ronald Ebert, opined that the defendant was not competent to stand trial. The defendant had been as uncommunicative during an interview with Dr. Ebert as he had been with Dr. Profit. Dr. Ebert was unable, however, to exclude the possibility that the defendant was malingering. The judge ruled that the defendant was competent to stand trial.
Dr. Ebert again testified at the hearing on the motion for a new trial. In support of his motion, the defendant also submitted an affidavit from his mother that described his troubled childhood. According to his mother’s affidavit, she had consumed cocaine and other drugs during her pregnancy and, in her view, the defendant was born “addicted to cocaine.” She described his physically abusive conduct to himself and other family members, his transfer to “special education” classes at school, and the fact that he had not attended school beyond the eighth grade and had begun using drugs when he left school. At this hearing Dr. Ebert again testified that, based on the two occasions that he had seen the defendant, he was unable to conclude whether the defendant was malingering. He agreed that from his perspective this case was unusual in that respect. Dr. Ebert said that he had reviewed the mother’s affidavit and one from the defendant’s grandmother, that he had not received any “objective information about the matters addressed,” and that the information he had was “limited.” He testified that the defendant’s mental functioning “could” have affected his ability to form the specific intent to commit “any crime.”
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On March 23, 1992, the defendant and a friend arrived outside a row of stores at the intersection of Fuller and Washington Streets in the Dorchester section of Boston. The victim, Christopher Pires, was standing outside the stores with a group of people. Pires approached the defendant and his friend and started a conversation. That conversation degenerated into an argument among them. After a short time, the defendant pulled out a revolver. Brandishing the weapon, he shouted at Pires several times, “You don’t think I’m going to shoot you?” Pires turned and ran. The defendant pursued Pires down the street and around a corner, firing three or four shots in Pires’s direction. The defendant gained ground on Pires and shot him in the back from only a few feet away. Pires died within a few minutes.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant and some friends were in the parking lot of a sandwich shop in Rockland. Some distance away, near a van belonging to the victim, an argument had begun between the victim and Steven DiRenzo, another friend of the defendant. The victim took a baseball bat out of his van and used it to fend off DiRenzo, but did not actually swing it. At this point, DiRenzo called to the defendant. The defendant and several friends ran toward the van and began taunting the victim, who continued to use the bat. The victim fell, dropped the bat, and lay motionless on his stomach. While six or seven people kept hitting and kicking the victim, he asked them to stop and made no attempt to fight back. The defendant picked up the bat and swung it three times at the victim’s head, crushing his skull and lacerating his brain. Each blow would have been sufficient to kill him. The victim, unconscious, was taken to a hospital, where he died two days later as a result of his head injuries.
1. Evidence of extreme atrocity or cruelty. The defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support a determination of extreme atrocity or cruelty. We reject this contention. [Note 2] The evidence supported a jury’s determination that several of the Cunneen factors were present. See Commonwealth v. Cunneen, 389 Mass. 216 , 227 (1983). The victim asked his assailants to stop hitting him, yet the defendant struck him with the bat. This shows indifference to or pleasure in the victim’s suffering. See id. Each blow was of sufficient force to kill the victim, yet the defendant struck three blows. This shows a disproportion between the means needed to cause death and those employed. See id. The jury were clearly warranted in concluding that three skull-crushing blows with a baseball bat constituted extreme atrocity or cruelty.
The facts of this case are not fully summarized in the SJC’s opinion — the appeal turned mostly on the voluntariness of a confession. It appears that the defendant was involved in the drug trade. The key facts were:
In the early evening hours of February 21, 1994, Joseph Dozier was shot and killed on the steps in front of Boston Latin Academy in the Roxbury section of Boston. His body was riddled with bullets fired from two handguns. . . . In his final statement, while still denying that he shot Dozier, Jordan admitted to being right next to Jones when the shooting occurred; knowing that Jones intended to shoot Dozier at the meeting; and understanding that Jones expected Jordan to shoot Dozier as well.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
Two privately employed security guards, Rui Carvalho and Earl Lacaillade (the guards), were on foot patrol in the Canfield Gardens housing complex in the Roxbury section of Boston on the afternoon of December 1, 1994. At about 4:30 P.m., the guards heard three gunshots coming from Kendall Street, approximately fifty to sixty yards away. Both guards drew their guns and ran in the direction of the gunshots. They saw three black males standing on the sidewalk along Kendall Street.
On seeing the guards, two of the males fled down Kendall Street toward Shawmut Avenue. One of the two males was holding a handgun. The third male (later identified as the defendant) fled in another direction toward Ditmus Court. The guards pursued the defendant as he ran around the comer of a building. After coming around the comer, the guards stopped and saw the defendant, with his right arm raised and extended, standing about eight feet from the victim, Jimmy Hinson. Hinson was backing away from the defendant, with his arms raised in a defensive manner. Hinson fell backward onto the steps of a building on Ditmus Court, and the defendant fired his gun four times at the victim. Carvalho was standing some fifteen to twenty feet from the defendant at the time of the shooting; Lacaillade was slightly farther away. Carvalho immediately recognized the shooter as the same young, light-skinned black male whom he had seen “over one hundred times” in recent weeks in the general area around the Canfield Gardens housing complex.
The defendant made eye contact for one second or more with Carvalho, then fled, with Carvalho in pursuit. Carvalho gave up the pursuit after a block and returned to the crime scene. Lacaillade, who had stayed behind to assist the victim, immediately radioed for police assistance. Hinson was transported by ambulance to Boston City Hospital, where he died three days later from massive internal injuries caused by the gunshot wounds.
On the evening of the incident, Boston police Detective Charles Horsley separately interviewed Carvalho and Lacaillade. The next day each man was separately shown an identical photographic array of nine pictures, including one of the defendant. Carvalho immediately selected the defendant’s picture, but Lacaillade was unable to make a positive identification from the array. The police obtained a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. After learning of the warrant, the defendant voluntarily surrendered on January 24, 1995.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
At approximately 10 P.m. on May 25, 1994, Carlos Araujo (Carlos), his brother, Manuel Araujo (Manny), and Kepler Desir were each shot in the head by Horton. Manny and Desir died immediately from single gunshot wounds. Carlos survived.
Earlier that day another individual, Henry Garcia, was at the defendant’s apartment in Brockton. Garcia told the defendant that he and Desir planned to go to New York City that evening to restock their supply of narcotics, and that Desir planned to buy more than two ounces of cocaine. Cocaine in that amount would cost over $1,500. The defendant was also interested in purchasing narcotics in New York, but could not afford to do so. Garcia testified that he paged Desir for the defendant, who then asked Desir to lend him some drugs to sell, but Desir refused to do so. After Garcia left the defendant’s apartment, Horton arrived. A roommate testified that Horton used the telephone, and Horton and the defendant then left the apartment. As they left, the defendant took his gun from beneath a couch.
In the meantime, Desir had joined Manny and Carlos. Around 8 P.m. that same evening, those three picked up the defendant and Horton by car. While in the car, Desir and Horton discussed a plan to rob some local drug dealers. On Horton’s instructions, Manny drove the car to the drug dealers’ house, where Horton and the defendant got out of the car. They were gone for about five minutes, returned to the car, and informed the others they would return later to carry out the robbery. Back in the car Horton sat behind the driver, Manny. The defendant sat in the middle. Carlos was seated behind Desir on the passenger side of the car. At Horton’s direction, Manny drove the car to a parking lot near a school building where he stopped the car and they all waited.
Without warning, Horton opened fire on Carlos, Manny, and Desir. He shot each in the head with single shots. Carlos was the only survivor. While feigning death, Carlos heard either the defendant or Horton say, “Turn off the lights,” and other snippets of conversation discussed below. The defendant and Horton then left the car. Carlos dragged himself out of the car and obtained help. When the police arrived they found Manny and Desir dead. Desir’s shirt had been pulled up, suggesting that his pockets had been searched. The police found little more than one dollar in his pockets.
The defendant and Horton fled to Barry Stephens’s apartment nearby. Horton told Stephens in the defendant’s presence that he had killed three men and asked Stephens to hide a gun. Stephens refused. As the defendant and Horton left, the defendant turned to Stephens and told him to “keep it under your hat.” The defendant made efforts to evade arrest, but the police took him into custody the next day. He gave several contradictory statements to the police, at first denying any knowledge of the killings, a statement he later disavowed.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
Shortly before 11 P. M. on June 10, 1994, police were dispatched to a shooting that occurred near the intersection of Lothrop Avenue and Churchill Street in Milton. When they arrived they saw a bullet-riddled Mazda sedan automobile that had rolled to a stop in some bushes. Its engine was running, the headlights were on, and music was blaring. The driver, Gregory Cormier, was dead. The passenger, Wayne Jackson, suffered gunshot wounds to the neck and chest, but he survived. Cormier suffered four gunshot wounds to his back, one of which caused fatal internal hemorrhaging.
Police recovered eight nine millimeter Luger caliber cartridge casings near the sidewalk in front of 22 Churchill Street in the vicinity of the car, all fired from the same semiautomatic pistol. Three damaged lead projectiles capable of being fired from a .38 special caliber revolver or a .357 magnum revolver were recovered from the battery in the engine compartment of the Mazda, from the driver’s side door mirror of the Mazda, and from the stairs at 1 Lothrop Avenue. It could not be determined if they were fired from the same gun. Lead projectile fragments were recovered from Jackson’s clothing, Churchill Street, the Mazda windshield wiper deck, the Mazda passenger door “pillow,” and the Mazda driver’s door. No determination could be made as to their type of ammunition or the type of gun from which they were fired. The same is true of the lead core portion of a jacketed projectile recovered from Cormier’s clothing.
Six nine millimeter .38 caliber class full metal jacketed spent projectiles, all fired from the same gun, were recovered from Cormier’s T-shirt, Cormier’s right jaw, [Note 1] Jackson’s clothing, the trunk of the Mazda, the driver’s side door “pillow” of the Mazda, and the floor below the Mazda front passenger seat. It could not be determined, without having the suspect gun, whether the same gun that discharged the eight cartridge casings also fired the six nine millimeter .38 caliber class full metal jacketed spent projectiles. The six spent projectiles, which had the same identifying rifling characteristics, could have been fired from any one of a variety of guns, including a nine millimeter Luger semiautomatic pistol and a .357 magnum revolver. It could not be determined which gun fired those projectiles without the suspect gun. At least two and possibly more guns were used in the shooting. None was recovered.
Five days before Cormier was killed, Ato Murrell (Ato) was shot to death on Belnel Road in the Hyde Park section of Boston. Ato’s brother, Kenyatta Murrell (Murrell), [Note 2] and the defendant were members of a Hyde Park gang called the Belnel Dogs. They discussed retaliating against the Greenfield Browns, a rival gang from Hyde Park, for Ato’s death. Cormier was associated with the Greenfield Browns, although he had moved to the town of Milton for his high school years. On June 10, 1994, Murrell talked to Belnel Dogs members Kent Grays, Marcelus Durham, James Peebles, and Albert Banks about retaliating against the Greenfield Browns for Ato’s killing.
On the evening of June 10, 1994, the defendant, Murrell, and Lonnie Smith were in a car driven by Shawn Castle. [Note 3] The defendant spotted Cormier’s car and directed Castle to follow it. They followed the car into Milton. When it turned down a side street and the brake lights went on, Murrell told Castle to turn down the next street. It was a dead-end street. Castle parked his car. The defendant and Murrell got out of the car and disappeared. Within thirty seconds Castle heard a series of popping sounds. The defendant and Murrell reappeared shortly thereafter, running back to Castle’s car. Murrell told Castle to pull out. Murrell was complaining that his gun had jammed on him again. After several attempts in the car he freed the obstruction. When they arrived at Belnel Village in Hyde Park, the defendant and Murrell got out of the car. Murrell looked skyward and screamed, “We got him Cube, we got him. We killed him.” Cube was the nickname of Murrell’s deceased brother.
Minutes later Castle saw them again, and he gave them a ride to Peebles’s house. On the way they stopped a car with Peebles, Grays, Durham, and Banks inside. Murrell told them that things were going to get “hot” in Belnel Village and that they should meet at Peebles’s house. After they arrived at Peebles’s house, Murrell and the defendant celebrated their success by regaling fellow gang members with details of the shooting. Murrell announced that he had just shot somebody in Milton but they did not know whether they had killed anybody. The defendant told them if anybody said anything, there would be problems. Murrell told Grays his first shot went through the back window and must have hit the driver because all motion in the car stopped and the car started rolling. He said they ran to the side of the car and started shooting through the side window. The defendant produced a pearl-handled .357 magnum revolver and handed it to Peebles. The defendant told Durham that he had “straightened something up in Milton.” He said that he jumped over some fences and ran up to the Mazda and shot into the car. Murrell told him to be quiet and stop talking so much. The defendant and Murrell talked about taking showers to wash off the gunpowder from their hands and bodies, and changing clothes. They both went upstairs and showered.
The next day, at Ato’s funeral, Murrell told Durham they followed the Mazda, jumped over some fences, and shot into the back of the car. When the car started to roll, they ran up to it and shot through the driver’s side window. The car kept rolling and they fled. Murrell said he used a nine millimeter gun and the defendant used a .357. The defendant bragged that he did more work because his gun was bigger. Murrell told Castle at the funeral that he shot into the back of the car and through the side window; he said the defendant shot from the front of the car. At a later date Murrell told Grays he used a nine millimeter Browning and the defendant used a .357 magnum.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On July 10, 1995, the defendant and Ronny Elliot, along with three companions, were involved in a fight at a McDonald’s restaurant in the Roxbury section of Boston with another young man, Steve Clinton, nicknamed “Country.” Clinton was punched and kicked by the codefendants and their companions before he managed to run into the restaurant. Alvaro Sanders, whom Clinton approached for assistance, intervened and suggested that the defendant fight Clinton one-on-one. The defendant laughed and swore at Sanders, and two of his companions approached Sanders in a threatening manner, but backed off when Sanders warned them that he, unlike Clinton, would fight back. Sanders was angry, feeling that he had been “disrespected” by the defendant, but, because he was outnumbered, left the scene in his automobile. He then sought the assistance of the victim to retaliate against the defendant and Elliot.
Approximately two hours later, Sanders and the victim located the codefendants on Walnut Avenue in Roxbury. After a brief chase – Sanders in his automobile, the codefendants on bicycles – Sanders drove the wrong way down Catawba Street, stopping in front of Elliot’s house, to where the codefendants had fled. Sanders and the victim got out of the automobile. As Elliot ran inside his house, the defendant ran down an alley adjacent to the house. Moments later, Elliot emerged from the house carrying a rifle, stood on the porch, and then joined the defendant, who had reappeared from the alley, on the sidewalk behind an automobile. The victim was standing in the middle of the street, directly in front of the codefendants, at a distance of about ten to fifteen feet; Sanders was standing approximately ten feet to the victim’s right. As Elliot raised the rifle and alternated pointing it at the victim and Sanders, the defendant, who was standing two or three feet from Elliot, twice yelled at Elliot, “Lace them niggers.” When Elliot did not fire, the defendant took the rifle from him in a “pass and grab” motion, cocked it, pointed it at the victim and said, “Fuck this. I’m about to lace these niggers.” The victim raised his hands in the air, telling the defendant, “Come downstairs and fight us up and up,” meaning that the defendant should put down the rifle and fight him with fists. The defendant then shot the victim six times, once in the back, and fired once at Sanders as he ran from the scene, missing him. Someone standing near the defendant then threw a bottle at the victim, which shattered on the ground near his feet. The victim collapsed at the scene; he was later transported by emergency medical personnel to Boston City Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The defendant, still carrying the rifle, ran down Catawba Street. Four days later, Boston police recovered a rifle in a narrow space between fences at a nearby address on Catawba Street, and ballistics tests confirmed that it matched all the shell casings found at the scene and one of the bullets that had lodged in the victim’s chest; the other bullets that had struck the victim were too damaged to be linked conclusively to the rifle.
Sanders immediately reported the shooting to Boston police. He told the police that night that the shooter’s first name was “Mike,” but that he did not know his last name, and the next day he selected the defendant’s and Elliot’s photographs from photographic arrays. The defendant was arrested two days after the shooting, and Elliot eight weeks later.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The victim, Janet Downing, was the mother of one of the defendant’s best friends, Ryan Downing. The defendant and Ryan Downing belonged to a large and close-knit group of high school boys who lived in the Prospect Hill neighborhood of Somerville. The Downing home was a frequent gathering place for the boys, and Janet Downing was well liked by the group. The defendant, who was fifteen years old in July, 1995, lived across the street from the Downings on Boston Street.
The defendant developed a preoccupation with the victim during the year prior to her death. He watched her closely, sometimes through a telescope from his bedroom. He frequently asked Ryan and Paul Downing, Ryan’s brother, about their mother’s activities and told Ryan that he had watched her undress. The defendant remarked to several of his friends that he thought she was a lesbian.
During the evening of July 22, 1995, the defendant met Ryan Downing and they talked. At one point in the conversation, the defendant spoke of his desire to hurt someone. At about 7 P.m. on July 23, 1995, some boys, including the defendant, gathered in the kitchen at the Downing home to discuss plans for the evening. The victim was asleep on the living room couch, a fact which drew a comment from the defendant. The boys decided to go swimming, except the defendant, who said he was going to visit another friend, Garvey Salomon. The defendant never went to Salomon’s house.
Paul Downing and Jeannie O’Brien, the defendant’s sister, had been to Revere Beach and returned at about 8 P.m. Each went home briefly. The victim was still asleep on the couch. The defendant was sitting on his front porch. Paul and Jeannie left at about 8:20 P.m. to return to Revere Beach.
At about 9:20 P.m., three boys arrived at the Downing home looking for Ryan. They were friends of the defendant as well. They knocked at the front door and called out for Ryan, but there was no answer. One of the boys, Marco Abreu, heard a loud noise coming from the back yard, as if something were falling through tree branches. They heard rustling and the sound of branches breaking in the bushes behind the house. They knocked at the back door, but received no answer. One boy, John Fitzpatrick, walked to the top of Hamlet Street, which bordered the Downing’s rear yard. He saw the defendant crouching in some bushes and then saw him jump out onto Hamlet Street. Fitzpatrick called out to the defendant, but received no response. Abreu, who was further up the street and only twenty feet from the defendant, also called out to him. The defendant’s hands were by his side, with fists clenched. As he passed under a streetlight, he turned and faced Abreu. His eyes were bulging and he was laughing. He then turned away and walked down Hamlet Street.
Ryan Downing arrived home at about 10 P.m. and found his mother lying lifeless on the dining room floor. Some furniture had been overturned and there were blood stains in the foyer, the kitchen, dining room, a bathroom, and in the cellar. He ran across the street to the O’Brien home and asked for help. The defendant’s father called the police, who began arriving within one minute. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the victim, then transported her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
In the meantime, the defendant entered the Midnite Convenience store in Union Square, a short distance from the Downing home, at about 10 P.m. He worked there on a part-time basis. He told the store clerk that he had been robbed and stabbed in the square by a black man and a Hispanic man. The defendant was bleeding from cuts on his hand. He also had cuts and scrapes on his legs, and appeared distraught. The clerk called the police. The defendant was taken to Somerville Hospital. Police at the Downing home learned about the defendant’s report of having been stabbed and robbed. Believing there may be a connection between the two crimes because of their proximity in time and place as well as the fact that both involved a stabbing, two officers went to Somerville Hospital to interview the defendant.
The defendant’s father was at the hospital. The officers asked him if they could interview the defendant. The defendant’s father first spoke with the defendant alone, and they agreed he would speak to the officers about the crime he reported. The officers made note of his wounds, and that he appeared calm, alert, and cooperative as he related the details of the robbery. The defendant and his father consented to the officers’ request to take his clothes and a swabbing of the blood stain on his right shin. The defendant and his father also agreed to bring the clothes to the police station, and to show the officers where the robbery took place. They then went to Union Square in separate cars and the defendant showed them where he had been robbed. The area was well lit, and foot traffic was heavy. The officers looked for blood and signs of a struggle, but found neither.
Finding no physical evidence to support the defendant’s claim of having been mugged, the police began to doubt his story. Shortly after he arrived at the police station with his father, at about 1:15 A.M. on July 24, an officer advised the defendant of the Miranda rights. The defendant and his father signed a juvenile Miranda warning-waiver form. The defendant repeated his account of the robbery. He was unable to explain the scratches on his arms and legs. An officer who had been at the Downing home joined the interview. Near the end of the interview the defendant was asked if he or any of the other boys was involved in Janet Downing’s murder. The defendant denied any involvement. He and his parents left the police station that night. The defendant was arrested on July 25, 1995, at about 7:15 P.m.
An autopsy revealed that Janet Downing sustained sixty-six stab wounds and thirty-two incised wounds (length greater than width). There were numerous stab and incised wounds to her neck, and small puncture wounds under her chin. Her upper right lung had seven stab wounds which corresponded to only two exterior wounds, signifying that a knife had been thrust into the two exterior wounds more than once. There was one stab wound to her lower left lung, and two to her liver. One stab was delivered with such force that it cut her second left rib in two. There were defensive wounds on her left hand and arm. The cause of death was determined to be a loss of blood due to multiple stab wounds, most significantly to the lungs and liver.
The defendant’s fingerprints were found in blood on the inside of the front door and on a wooden post in the cellar. A knife hilt found on a stair in the front foyer of the Downing home was identical in size to that of a knife owned by the defendant that the police found in his trash, and he was known to have two such knives. Blood consistent with that of the defendant, and having a profile shared by approximately six per cent of the Caucasian population, was found in the front hallway of the Downing home. Deoxyribonucleic: acid test results indicated that blood samples recovered from the Downing home on the front door, the dining room door, and a dress in the cellar matched the defendant’s blood sample. The blood taken from the defendant’s shin at the hospital was the same type as the victim’s. Police also saw a trail of blood on Hamlet Street behind the Downing house and continuing about 500 feet along the route the defendant followed when he was seen by John Fitzpatrick and Marco Abreu the evening of July 23.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On November 24, 1995, three men, one of whom was later identified as the defendant, approached the victim, Barrington Nevins, and five of his friends who were standing on a sidewalk in the Dorchester section of Boston. The defendant was carrying a rifle and another of the assailants had a handgun. The armed men demanded that Nevins and his friends turn over their leather jackets. One of the assailants held the handgun to the head of one victim. Despite the fact that the victims surrendered their jackets and pocket money, the defendant shot Nevins in the chest, killing him, and then pointed the rifle at another victim. As the robbers fired their weapons, the five surviving victims fled, but returned to the scene a short time later.
Three of the victims recognized the robbers. Two of them identified the defendant from a photographic array at the police station on the night of the incident. At trial, three of the victims identified the defendant as the killer. They all knew him by his nickname, “Ant.” The three also identified the other two assailants by nickname. The defendant, who was seventeen years of age at the time, fled after the murder and was arrested less than one month later in Petersburg, Virginia. While in custody, he was interviewed by Detective Sergeant Patrick Kelleher of the Petersburg, Virginia, police department, and confessed to his role in the robbery and murder. His confession was tape recorded. The interview lasted approximately forty-five minutes, including a recorded seven-minute portion.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant’s convictions stem from an incident in which a group of armed men stormed an apartment in a New Bedford housing project in retaliation for an earlier confrontation involving some of the apartment’s occupants. Three persons in the apartment — Robert Botelho, Matthew Grant, and Anthony Mullen — were stabbed in the course of the ensuing melee. Botelho died from his injuries. Grant and Mullen survived. The Commonwealth’s theory was that Rolon was the principal instigator of the group’s attack on the apartment and that he was the one who fatally stabbed Botelho during the course of that attack.
On the evening of January 20, 1996, Botelho, Mullen and Grant were visiting the apartment of Botelho’s girl friend, Natasha Azevedo. Azevedo lived in the apartment with her two-year old son, her sister Tiffany, and her cousin, Desiree Gibbs. After some period of drinking, the three men and three women decided to go to a party being held at a nearby apartment in the housing project. There was some concern about potential friction between Botelho and other guests who might be at the party, and the three men therefore armed themselves: Mullen with a “steak fork,” Grant with a hammer, and Botelho with a pistol. Botelho’s pistol, although it appeared real, had a plug in the barrel and was incapable of firing. After leaving Azevedo’s baby with a next door neighbor, the group proceeded to the party at around 11 P.M.
At the party, a fight erupted between Mullen and one of the other guests. During that altercation, Botelho pulled out his gun, waved it around, and told everyone to “get off [his] boy.” The defendant, Anthony Rolon, arrived shortly before the end of the fight and began arguing with Botelho. Rolon complained that Botelho would “bring the cops around” where he, Rolon, was “trying to make money.” During that argument, Botelho pulled his gun out, waved it around, and repeatedly pointed it at Rolon. In response, Rolon stretched out his arms and told Botelho to “come on, go ahead.” Various friends intervened, convinced Botelho to put the gun away and leave, and escorted Botelho and his companions back to Azevedo’s apartment to make certain that they left. However, despite the efforts to separate Botelho from Rolon, Rolon and a few of his friends followed close behind. Rolon continued shouting at Botelho (“Come on, you’re a big man, go ahead”). When they reached Azevedo’s apartment, words continued to be exchanged, with Rolon yelling for Botelho to come out and fight. Botelho ultimately told them to leave, and went inside Azevedo’s apartment. One of Rolon’s friends yelled out, “We’ll be back.” Rolon’s group then left, and all was quiet for some ten to twenty minutes thereafter.
During that interval of time, Rolon’s group joined up with a larger group of some fifteen to twenty young men. Most of them were armed, carrying knives, bats, shovels, hammers, sticks, and frying pans. As they assembled slightly down the hill from Azevedo’s apartment, someone asked what they were doing. An unidentified member of the group replied, “We’re [going to] take care of something.” Others were heard asking who had pulled a gun on Rolon. Rolon said that he “was going to get the kid” with the gun. Various people who had been at the earlier party saw the armed group and attempted to dissuade Rolon, telling him and his companions that they should “just drop it . . . just leave it alone,” that “the person’s gone, he’s left,” and “[t]here’s no more reason to fight.” However, Rolon did not respond, and “nobody seemed to listen.” Anticipating trouble, one partygoer went to telephone the police.
Rolon, at the head of one group, proceeded up the hill in the direction of Azevedo’s apartment, while a smaller group broke off and approached the apartment by a different route. As they reached the apartment, one group went around to the back while the other remained in front. The attack began by smashing the apartment windows with a rock, a board, and a shovel. Botelho, Mullen, and Grant rushed out the back door. Botelho, carrying his inoperable gun, ran at one of his attackers and struck him with the gun. However, the gun fell to the ground, and someone called out that the gun was a “fake.” Grant grabbed Botelho and rushed back toward the apartment. Rolon and one of his companions, Hidekel “Kelly” Hernandez, chased after Botelho and caught up with him just outside the back door. Hernandez began hitting Botelho; Rolon stabbed him several times. Botelho went back inside the apartment, and ultimately collapsed in the living room.
Meanwhile, other members of Rolon’s group were fighting with Mullen outside. Mullen was hit with a shovel and cut with a knife. When he made his way back inside the apartment, he was assaulted by yet another intruder with a knife. Others pushed their way through the back door and caught up with Grant, who had managed to get inside as far as the living room. Surrounded by attackers who had him pinned down on the couch, Grant was struck in the head with the handle of a hammer and stabbed in the buttocks and thigh, severing an artery. Versions differed as to the identity of the individuals who stabbed Mullen and Grant, and versions differed as to whether Rolon himself had ever been inside the apartment at any point. [Note 3] By all accounts, the scene was chaotic, and most of the perpetrators were never identified.
The attack ended when one of the intruders yelled out “five-o” (a reference to the imminent arrival of the police) and the group fled. Rolon and several others regrouped at a friend’s apartment shortly thereafter. Hernandez, whose hands were bloody, reported that he had gotten “the kid inside the house good,” and Rolon bragged that “he got that kid good with the gun.”
Botelho was still alive when police arrived at the scene, but he succumbed shortly thereafter. He had three deep stab wounds in the chest, the fatal wound being to the heart. He had also sustained blunt force injuries and lacerations to the head, neck, shoulders, back, arm, thigh, and hands.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On February 5, 1996, Godfrey Jenkins and Kenneth Wallace spent much of the evening at the apartment of Jenkins’s sister (Michelle Jenkins) in the Dorchester section of Boston playing video games, listening to music, and drinking beer. Later Jenkins and Wallace decided to go to the defendant’s apartment in the Roxbury section of Boston, where Jenkins planned to purchase a “quarter” ($250 worth) of crack cocaine. Wallace had known the defendant for two or three years. Carlos Gonzalez, Michelle’s boy friend, drove them. He waited in the car while Jenkins and Wallace went to meet the defendant. Jenkins gave the defendant $250 for a “quarter” of crack cocaine. The defendant said they would have to wait because he needed to page someone.
Wallace and Jenkins waited for the defendant downstairs in a glass enclosed catwalk. After waiting twenty minutes, they returned to the apartment and Jenkins knocked on the door again. The defendant’s sister answered the door and told them that the defendant was not there. They returned to the catwalk and continued to wait. After another twenty minutes they tried, unsuccessfully, to page the defendant. They returned to the defendant’s apartment and knocked on the door. The defendant’s sister answered and told Jenkins that his business with the defendant did not concern her and that he should stop knocking because there were children in the apartment. They returned to the catwalk to wait. Gonzalez eventually grew tired of waiting and left. Wallace and Jenkins again returned to the defendant’s apartment and Jenkins knocked on the door. The defendant came to the door and told Wallace and Jenkins to wait downstairs and he would be out.
The defendant had become increasingly upset by Jenkins’s insistence. He obtained a semiautomatic .22 caliber pistol from his room, changed his clothes, and said, “He’s not going to come here disrespecting my house like that. . . . I’m gonna take care of him. . . . I’m going to shoot him.” The defendant went to the opposite end of the hallway leading to the catwalk and called to Wallace. As Wallace approached, he saw that the defendant was carrying a .22 caliber Luger pistol that he had previously shown to him. Wallace “froze.” The defendant told him to step aside, and raised the gun. On seeing this Jenkins raised his hands and said, “All I want is my money back.” He repeated his plea two or three times. The defendant then fired at least seven shots at Jenkins, hitting him four times. Two wounds were potentially fatal.
Wallace ran to his aunt’s apartment, which was located nearby. He told his cousin that the defendant had just shot Jenkins, and he telephoned for an ambulance. Police and emergency personnel arrived shortly thereafter and found Jenkins lying in the hallway. He was in pain, frightened, bleeding, and asking for oxygen. An emergency medical technician frisked Jenkins for weapons, but she found none. Jenkins asked her if he were going to die. She told him that it did not look good and that if he had something to say, he should say it. Jenkins said that “Prince” shot him. Jenkins was taken to Boston City Hospital, where he underwent surgery. He died the next day.
At trial, the defendant admitted that he shot Jenkins but claimed that he had acted in self-defense. He said that, after Jenkins brandished a gun in the hallway and attempted to rob him, he in turn pulled his gun. He claimed that Jenkins then started shooting at him and he returned the fire. The defendant claimed that Wallace took Jenkins’s gun and they both fled.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The jury could have found that, at approximately 5:45 P.M. on November 19, 1996, Desmond Campbell was standing with his girl friend on the front steps of the three-family house in which he lived at 46 Winthrop Street in Brockton, on the corner of Winthrop Street and Warren Avenue, when he observed a green automobile similar to a Dodge Stratus drive by and stop outside his house behind a bus. [Note 2] He observed a black male in the passenger seat staring at him. The same automobile passed by a few minutes later. A minute or two later, Desmond saw a black male who was approximately six feet tall and who was wearing a black coat, a dark “hoodie” (hooded sweatshirt), blue jeans, and black boots climb down a wall at the nearby house at 451 Warren Avenue. The man went to a white van that was parked in front of the house. Two other men ran behind the van. Fearing that they were enemies (although he did not recognize anyone in the automobile), because he had gotten into many fights in Brockton, he grabbed his girl friend and went into his younger brother Daryl’s bedroom on the second floor. He told Daryl that there were three males across the street. Daryl opened the bedroom window to see who was outside, and immediately heard the sound of multiple gunshots.
After the shooting stopped, Daryl looked out the window and saw two of the men, both dark skinned and wearing black clothing (one wearing a hoodie), get into a green automobile parked up the street. One man got into the front passenger seat, and the other got into the back seat behind the driver. The automobile drove off down Winthrop Street. The police later recovered twenty discharged nine millimeter cartridge casings from the lawn of 451 Warren Avenue. No one was injured during the shooting.
Desmond’s aunt, Phyllis Murphy, and her boy friend lived in the first-floor apartment at 46 Winthrop Street. Teriell Murphy and Delicia Turner are Phyllis’s children. The father of Turner’s child was Carlo Clermy, the victim.
Turner quickly telephoned Teriell. As a result of the telephone call, Teriell and the victim drove to 46 Winthrop Street in Turner’s automobile, a light blue Honda. When they arrived, the police already were there. They spoke with some of their relatives about what had occurred, and departed in the Honda. They drove around Brockton, angry, upset, and eager to retaliate.
The victim was driving. While heading west on Nilsson Street, he stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of Nilsson Street and Warren Avenue, about one-half mile from 46 Winthrop Street. As Teriell was trying to light a “blunt” (marijuana cigar), a white tow truck hauling a station wagon came around the corner. A light green, four-door Chrysler Cirrus then followed the tow truck around the corner, to the left of the Honda, shining its headlights on the Honda. The Chrysler stopped, and the rear door on the driver’s side opened. Teriell ducked down and slouched in his seat, and heard multiple gunshots. The driver’s side window of the Honda blew out, followed by the passenger’s side window, and glass shattered all around. The victim was shot. The Honda drifted forward and to the left, and crashed into a utility pole.
Teriell grabbed a nine millimeter semiautomatic pistol from the victim’s waist area and got out of the automobile. Teriell saw a shadowy figure wearing dark clothing getting into the back seat of the Chrysler behind the driver. The Chrysler drove away, traveling east on Nilsson Street. Teriell chased on foot after the automobile, attempting to shoot at it, but the gun would not fire because the safety was on. Teriell “cocked the hammer” and a bullet fell to the ground. Teriell repeatedly fired at the Chrysler, shooting until he had no ammunition left. The Chrysler passed the tow truck in front of it, at which time Teriell stopped shooting. He left the gun near a shed behind a variety store and returned to the Honda. [Note 4] Police arrived at the scene at approximately 6:16 P.M. The victim died as a result of gunshot wounds to his neck and back.
Officer Thomas M. Spillane of the Brockton police department promptly arrived at the scene, and asked Teriell, who was shaking and appeared disoriented, what had happened. Teriell said he did not know; “[s]omebody just started shooting at us.”
While Officer Spillane was securing the scene, he was directed to go to Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, approximately three miles away, arriving there at approximately 6:40 P.M. Outside the entrance to the emergency room, Officer Spillane observed a green, four-door Chrysler Cirrus parked in a spot designated for handicapped drivers. The rear driver’s side window and the rear passenger’s side window were gone, there was glass inside the automobile, and there was blood on the rear seat and carpet.
Hospital personnel directed Officer Spillane to one of the defendants, Manuel Santos, who was wearing a dark hoodie and standing near the main door of the emergency room. Santos admitted that he had been driving the green Chrysler Cirrus parked outside of the emergency room. He stated that he had been heading south on Main Street when someone tried to carjack him. Santos explained that someone had started shooting at him during the attempted carjacking, and he had brought his friend Caillot to the emergency room. Officer Spillane brought Santos outside to two other police officers, and told them to handcuff him and place him in the police cruiser. One of the officers gave Santos Miranda warnings, which Santos said he understood, and then handcuffed Santos and placed him in custody in the back seat of a police cruiser. While walking to the cruiser, Santos told the officers that he “didn’t do anything,” but knew who did, that he had been carjacked, and asked to speak with a particular Brockton police detective, who was on his day off. The officer turned the radio inside the cruiser off after placing Santos in the back seat. A few moments later, Santos knocked on a cruiser door, and when the officer opened the front driver’s door, Santos asked, “What do you think, I murdered someone?” At the time, that officer was not aware that anyone had been killed. She told Santos that the detectives would talk to him.
A few minutes later, Detective Arthur McLaren of the Brockton police department arrived. He turned off his portable radio and joined Santos in the back seat of the cruiser. Santos asked if Caillot “was going to be okay,” and the detective said that he had only been shot in the hand. Santos told Detective McLaren that he had been driving down Warren Avenue when someone tried to hijack his vehicle. Detective McLaren asked if Santos knew who had shot at his vehicle, and Santos replied that it was “the same nigger that had shot, who had killed Steven.” Santos stated that Steven was Steven Auguste, Caillot’s first cousin, who had been killed three months earlier. Santos also repeatedly blurted out, “Six feet under or life,” and asked Detective McLaren if he knew whether “the other party had died.” Detective McLaren had said nothing about anyone being shot.
Meanwhile, inside the hospital, Officer Spillane spoke with Caillot, a black male, who lay on a gurney in the emergency room with his right hand heavily bandaged, and blood seeping through the bandage. Caillot was wearing a navy blue jacket, black sweatpants, and black sneakers. Officer Spillane asked him what had happened. At first, Caillot stated that he could not recall, but later stated that he had been lying in the back seat of an automobile, put his hand in the air, and got shot. He said he had no idea where it happened. Soon thereafter, State Trooper Steven Paul Godfrey arrived and advised Caillot of his Miranda rights. Caillot explained that only he and Santos were in the automobile; Santos was driving. He said he was lying on the back seat of the automobile with his head behind the driver’s seat, heard shooting, put his hand up in the air to pull himself up, and was shot. Caillot also spoke in the emergency room that evening with another trooper, State Police Lieutenant Michael Crisp, who knew Caillot from his previous investigation of the murder of Caillot’s cousin. Lieutenant Crisp again advised Caillot of his Miranda rights, and Caillot told him essentially the same version of events, but added that earlier that evening he and Santos had been at a friend’s house on Warren Avenue, and decided to go for a ride.
At trial, it was represented that no weapons involved in the shooting had been recovered. A total of forty-six discharged cartridge casings and one projectile or “live round,” all nine millimeter in diameter, were recovered from the crime scenes at the house shooting and the fatal shooting. As noted earlier, twenty of the forty-six discharged cartridge casings were recovered from the lawn of 451 Warren Avenue. Nineteen of the discharged cartridge casings were recovered from the intersection of Nilsson Street and Warren Avenue. The remaining seven discharged cartridge casings and the live round were found on Nilsson Street. The Commonwealth’s ballistics expert, State Trooper Michael Robert Arnold, testified that the discharged cartridge casings, based on his microscopic comparisons, had come from three different nine millimeter firearms. He explained that the seven discharged cartridge casings found on Nilsson Street came from “gun no. 1.” Based on the location of the discharged cartridge casings, this appeared to be the gun that Teriell had fired at the fleeing green automobile. Twelve discharged cartridge casings recovered from the lawn of 451 Warren Avenue and sixteen discharged cartridge casings recovered from the intersection of Nilsson Street and Warren Avenue came from “gun no. 2.” Eight discharged cartridge casings recovered from the lawn of 451 Warren Avenue and three discharged cartridge casings recovered from the intersection of Nilsson Street and Warren Avenue came from “gun no. 3.” In short, the two firearms that left cartridge casings on the lawn near the house shooting at 46 Winthrop Street were also used roughly thirty minutes later in the shooting one-half mile away at which the victim had been killed.
Trooper Arnold also testified that the spent bullets recovered (with one exception) were “consistent with nine millimeter caliber ammunition,” but that, without a weapon that could be used for comparison purposes, he could not state that any of the spent bullets came from any of the discharged cartridge casings recovered. Trooper Arnold went on to state that the discharged cartridge casings from gun no. 1 and gun no. 2 could have been used to fire the projectiles recovered from the victim’s body.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
During the evening of November 20, 1997, the defendants and eight of their friends, most of whom were members of the Laos Boyz street gang in Lowell, were “hunting,” a semimonthly exercise that involved attacks on members of rival gangs. They were driving around in two cars. At about 9:30 P.m. they encountered Joshua Molina, Juan Santana, and Johnny Lozada, who were walking on Bridge Street in Lowell. Chaleumphong, who was driving one of the cars, pulled alongside the three Hispanic youths. Someone in the car summoned Molina, who walked over and spoke briefly with one of the passengers, then walked away. Chaleumphong and his friends rejoined the other members of their group. They decided to attack Molina and his friends because Bouphavongsa and Molina had “problems” two years earlier.
They parked the cars out of sight a short distance up the street in the direction Molina and his friends were walking, then armed themselves with anything that could be used as a weapon. Chaleumphong had a claw hammer, and Bouphavongsa had a ball peen hammer. None of the others had hammers. The ten youths hid along the side of a diner and waited for Molina and his friends. Bouphavongsa served as lookout.
As Molina walked by the diner, he was knocked to the ground by one of the others, and Bouphavongsa then struck him in the face with a hammer. Molina curled in a fetal position, and lay motionless. Bouphavongsa continued to strike him, but there was no evidence that those blows were to the head. Others pummeled him with a shovel, fists, boards, and “The Club,” an automobile antitheft device. Chaleumphong repeatedly struck Molina in the head with a hammer. Juan Santana was beaten senseless. He regained consciousness in a hospital, and eventually recovered from his wounds. Johnny Lozada had seen the attack coming and tried to warn his friends as he fled. The group of ten fled before police arrived.
Molina died three days later from his head wounds, of which there were nine, any one of which was life threatening. Each of the wounds was consistent with the blow of a hammer wielded with significant force. He suffered severe hemorrhaging and numerous skull fractures, many of which displayed a radiating fracture pattern. His brain protruded through a hole in his skull.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The jury could have found the following facts. At approximately 3 P.M. on January 12, 1999, the defendant and a
friend, Noeun Phan, both fifteen years old, were walking on Central Street in Lowell, to mail a letter. They were members of the Union Boys Crew (UBC), a local gang.
At the same time and place, but walking toward them from the opposite direction were four older teens, Keoudone Onexaivieng (victim), Shane Downs, German Acevedo, and Edwin Rosa. They were going to Acevedo’s house to play video games. The victim and Downs were members of the Tiny Rascal Gang (TRG), a rival to the UBC. Acevedo and Rosa were affiliated with the Platoons, a gang aligned with the TRG.
As the groups neared, the defendant and Phan gave the victim “a real dirty look.” Phan bumped into Acevedo, who responded with a push. The victim bent down as if to pick up something that the defendant believed was a rock that the victim was going to throw at him and Phan. The defendant drew a Samurai sword from a sheath hidden under his coat. The sword was approximately thirty inches long, of which the blade was approximately fifteen inches. The victim and his three friends fled. There was no evidence that they had any weapons.
The defendant and Phan pursued them. At first, the group of four fled together, but the victim and Acevedo broke away and the defendant and Phan followed them. As the defendant and Phan closed the gap on the victim, who was trailing Acevedo, Phan yelled, “Get him. Get him.” The defendant shouted, “If you want to fuck with me, I’ll get you for it.” The victim lost ground when he turned into a passageway by a locksmith shop and slipped on some ice. As the victim stopped to cross a street, the defendant caught up to him and thrust the sword with an upward motion into the victim’s right lower back, pushing the blade more than six inches upward and toward the center of the victim’s torso. The blade pierced the inferior vena cava, the small bowel (in two places), and the inferior mesenteric vein, and nearly passed through the front of the victim’s body. Notwithstanding his injuries, the victim continued to run and the defendant continued his pursuit, sword in hand, until the victim collapsed. When the chase ended, the defendant and Phan jumped up and down and “looked kind of happy.”
When emergency personnel arrived, the victim was lying in a large pool of blood, bleeding profusely, conscious, and moaning from excruciating pain. He was disoriented and combative toward the emergency medical technicians who were attending to him. He was taken to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester where he underwent surgery and received seven and one-half liters of blood, more than 150 per cent of the volume of his own blood. Five hours later he died.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On the evening of August 9, 1999, Cecil Smith, the victim, was visiting his girl friend, Crystal Rego, at her apartment in Fall River. Smith also supplied Rego with marijuana which she used herself and sold to others. At about 10 P.M., Rego opened the door in response to a knock and Smith, who was sitting on a sofa, was fatally shot. There were two men at the door when Rego opened it, and after viewing many photographs in the hours after the murder, Rego identified Stokes from a photographic array assembled by the police. She named him as the man closer to her at the apartment door. She was unable to identify or describe the second person to any meaningful degree.
Shortly after the murder, Dana Mazyck, who had obtained marijuana from Rego at her apartment earlier that evening, arrived at his girl friend’s apartment and was smoking marijuana in the apartment’s “smoking room.” Ten to twenty minutes after Mazyck’s arrival, the defendant; the codefendant, Michael Holloway; and a third man, Alberto “Tito” Diaz, entered the “smoking room.” Interspersed with numerous failures of memory, Mazyck testified that the three men were “jumpy” and that Stokes said, “We just did some dirt.” He heard the three discuss “a guy being shot, and [that] they didn’t get anything.” Stokes said, “I got him. I think I hit him.” Mazyck also testified that all three of the men were discussing that they went to rob someone, thought the victim had a weapon, and so shot him. [Note 3] According to Mazyck, Holloway said that “he was going to shoot the guy, but his gun jammed, and the gun was garbage.” They were upset “because of the way it went down.” The three did not have weapons with them at the time of the discussion, but mentioned a .45 caliber automatic handgun and a .22 caliber Ruger pistol. Mazyck testified that Stokes said “he wrapped his gun up in a T-shirt and hid it by the library.” Mazyck also told the police that Stokes said he left a gun near a church. Mazyck admitted that he heard these statements while he was intoxicated from the marijuana he had been smoking and that, because of his friendship with Diaz, he initially withheld Diaz’s name from the police.
Keyon Sprinkle, November 16, 1999 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case. However, a Boston Phoenix Story about possibly wrongful convictions includes the following statement of the case:
On November 16, 1999, Charles Taylor was shot six times, in broad daylight, on a Roxbury street corner. Keyon Sprinkle, who was then 17 years old, told police that he was in his house three blocks away when he heard the gunshots. But eyewitnesses told a different story during his trial, and on March 27, 2002, Sprinkle was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. . . .
Sprinkle, just 5’3″ and 120 pounds, was an unemployed high-school dropout living with his grandmother at the time of his arrest. His only previous legal trouble was a marijuana-possession charge that was never prosecuted. He has a daughter with his girlfriend Jayda, and wanted to put together a life with them, says his cousin Loreen Jones, a Boston Public School teacher living in Randolph. “He had some plans,” Jones says. “After the baby came, he knew he had to buckle up.” But he never got that chance. . . .
The victim’s wife, Rosa Amporo-Taylor, testified against Sprinkle. She was in Sprinkle’s house at the time of the murder, and had previously had an affair with Sprinkle’s cousin Clarence Williams. According to prosecutors, Williams asked Sprinkle to kill Taylor, who was hanging out on a nearby street corner, and Sprinkle, who was playing video games with his friends and little brother, walked to the corner, put six bullets into Taylor, and calmly returned to his game. (Note: Williams was charged as an accessory before the fact and tried simultaneously with Sprinkle. He was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole.) . . .
Michael Jackson, January 24, 2002 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, however, a City of Boston press release included the following statement:
Boston Police arrested a suspect in the January 24, 2002 murder of Jose Lane, 25, at 30 Creston Street, Roxbury. Officers found Jose Lane in the first floor landing of the above address suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Lane was transported to Boston Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.
Boston Police Youth Violence Strike Force and Boston Police Homicide investigators arrested Michael Jackson, 17, of Dorchester at 6:30PM, on Geneva Avenue in Dorchester.
Michael Jackson will be arraigned on Monday, January 28, 2002 at Dorchester District Court and be charged with Murder and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.
Antonio Fernandez, June 20, 2002 (Age 16)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, however, a contemporaneous Boston Globe Story included the following:
Authorities yesterday identified Antonio Fernandez, 16, as the person they believe shot and killed a recent Brookline High School graduate behind a Brookline Village housing project Thursday evening. They warned that Fernandez should be considered armed and dangerous.
Fernandez – who is also known as Joshua Fernandez and Antonio Fernandes – allegedly shot Perry Hughes, 19, in the chest at close range during a graduation barbecue party, police said. Fernandez is described as having dark brown hair and brown eyes, with a medium brown complexion. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds.
A story sympathetic to Fernandez summarized the case in a sentence:
[He] went looking for pot at a Brookline High School graduation party, then shot the guest of honor in the chest when he got a racial slur instead.
Frances Choy, April 17, 2003 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but the Boston Globe reported on the trial:
In the early morning hours of April 17, 2003, Choy set fire to her home while her parents slept, prosecutors said. She and her 16-year-old nephew were rescued unharmed from their bedroom window.
Choy’s parents were also rescued but died later that day of smoke inhalation and burns.
Plastic bottles filled with gasoline were found at the scene.
Choy, then a 17-year-old senior at Brockton High School, was angry because her parents forbade her from moving in with her boyfriend and from living at college. Choy also wanted to collect $10,000 in insurance money, prosecutors said.
Kentel Weaver, August 10, 2003 (Age 16)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but a secondary source of newspaper clippings includes this: :
A Roxbury teenager pulled a pistol and blew away 15-year-old Germaine Rucker with two shots as he and six buddies pummeled Rucker with their fists on a Dorchester street Aug. 10, authorities said.
Sixteen-year-old Kentel Weaver showed up at a Roxbury police station early yesterday morning with his mom and confessed to slaying Rucker, who was selling charms on the street, authorities said.
Luis Penn, April 1, 2004 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but a story from the Eagle Tribune includes these facts about the case.
Benjamin “Benjie” Serrano, formerly of 76 Melvin St., was convicted of second-degree murder in November 2006 in connection with the April 2004 shooting death of Aneury “Willie” Guzman, who police said had begun dating Serrano’s ex-girlfriend in 2003, while Serrano was serving a prison sentence for another conviction.
Serrano was released from prison in February 2004 and began to harass and threaten his ex-girlfriend and Guzman.
On the night of the murder, Serrano and Guzman argued outside a Haverhill Street apartment and Serrano pulled a gun. He handed the gun to Luis Penn, 21, and proceeded to fight Guzman with his fists, according to court records and testimony at the trial.
Witnesses testified Guzman was able to break away from Serrano and had a brief face-to-face argument with Penn. Using the gun Serrano had handed him, Penn shot Guzman in the head, killing him.
Penn fled the area but was later arrested and convicted of first-degree murder at his January 2007 trial. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
On the evening of June 10, 2004, two teenage boys were shot from behind on Hazelwood Street in the Roxbury section of Boston following ongoing animosity between two groups of local teenagers. One was injured, and the other, Dakeem Galloway (Dakeem), fourteen years of age, died from a gunshot wound to the head. The defendant, Charon Ray, who was sixteen years of age at the time of the shooting, was subsequently indicted for the murder. . . .
For several years prior to the shooting, there had been tension and conflict between two groups of friends based around neighboring housing complexes located in Roxbury, known as Charlame I and Charlame II. In June, 2004, the defendant; brothers Rasheed Moore, Marcel Campbell, and Anthony Yancy; and brothers Julian, Jonathan, and Ronald Rogers were considered part of the Charlame I group. Dakeem (the victim), Jarrod Baskin, Thomas Burns, Javone Cole, Vincent Lockett, Jumani Mobley, and La-Lance Smith were considered part of the Charlame II group.
On June 10, 2004, there was a series of altercations between these groups. After school that day, Dakeem and his Charlame II friends, Baskin, Burns, Cole, Lockett, and Smith, apparently played basketball, as was their usual routine. At approximately 3 P.M., the boys walked to a store nearby to buy sodas and encountered the defendant. They exchanged words. On their return to Charlame II, the boys took a different route. At approximately 4 P.M., Dakeem indicated that he needed to return to the store for his mother. Smith accompanied him, and on the way they were approached by the defendant, accompanied by Moore and a third boy from Charlame I. They again exchanged words, and this time engaged in a physical fight. Dakeem and Smith then returned to Charlame II between 4 and 5 P.M.
Also that day, Campbell (of Charlame I) and Mobley (of Charlame II) had a fight outside the Lewis basketball court. The dispute arose from the taking by the Charlame I boys of a hat belonging to Dakeem. Dakeem and Smith had earlier tried to retrieve the hat with the help of Dakeem’s stepfather but were unsuccessful. During the fight, Campbell attempted to pull out a knife, but a man identified as Kyrice Grady took it from him. When the boys dispersed, Mobley and his friends returned to Charlame II.
At approximately 8:30 P.M., Smith, who lived a bus ride away from Charlame II, decided he wanted to go home. Dakeem, Baskin, Burns, Cole, and Lockett accompanied Smith to the bus stop because of the earlier conflict between Mobley and Campbell. Although Smith would normally walk along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or Catawba Street to reach the bus stop on Warren Street, the boys took the longer route along Humboldt Court and Hazelwood Street, because they wanted to avoid further problems with the Charlame I group. From their route, they could see numerous people gathered at Charlame I. At trial, Baskin testified that in the group he saw the defendant, wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, and Moore, wearing a sports jersey. He said that Moore was giving the defendant a black Champion-brand sweatshirt with a hood that was pointed at the top. As the Charlame II boys continued to walk down Hazelwood Street, a shooter located behind them fired six to seven gunshots. The boys ran down Hazelwood Street toward Warren Street. Burns was grazed by a bullet, and Dakeem was fatally injured by a gunshot wound to the head.
At approximately 9 P.M., officers and paramedics responded to a 911 telephone call from the scene. During a search of the area, the detectives found five spent casings fired by an unrecovered .25 caliber pistol, and a bag approximately the size of a golf ball, likely containing marijuana, near a large blood stain. No identifiable fingerprints were found on the casings or bag. The police also recovered a Razor-brand scooter from the scene.
Robert Jacobs, February 19 2006 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but the Brockton Enterprise reported that the defendant shot another juvenile at a birthday party.
A year-long manhunt for the suspected killer of a 15-year-old high school sophomore ended this morning at a city apartment.
Robert Jacobs of Brockton was found around 7:30 a.m. hiding in a 90 Menlo St. apartment, authorities said. He is accused of shooting to death Jerard Rogers, a sophomore at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in Easton in 2006. . . .
Jacobs, who was 17 at the time of the killing, was indicted by a Plymouth County grand jury last year on murder charges in the Feb. 19, 2006 slaying of Rogers. An autopsy performed the day after Rogers was killed found he had been shot multiple times and died of a gunshot to the back that pierced his lung.
Rogers was at a birthday party on Snell Street when he was shot. Authorities said it appeared he was trying to flee when he was gunned down.
In court, after confiction, the Enterprise reported that:
Jacobs turned several times and grinned at the victim’s family after the verdict was read, saying at one point he would see them again.
He slouched in his chair, smirked and pulled off his tie as the victim’s aunt, Krishaunna Baptiste, in a victim-witness statement, told the judge how the loss of Rogers devastated the family.
He turned his head and grinned as she told the judge how young her nephew was. “He was just a baby,” she said.
John Odgren, January 19, 2007 (Age 16)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but a Metrowest Daily News Story reported that the main issue in the case was the sanity of the defendant
John Odgren stabbed James Alenson eight times on Jan. 19, 2007, puncturing his heart twice, slicing his throat and stabbing him in the abdomen at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. . . .
“Why did a geeky, uncoordinated, awkward 16-year-old who had never been in any trouble with the law suddenly and without provocation ferociously stab to death a 15-year-old classmate who he did not even know?” [Defense Attorney] Shapiro said. “The illnesses that John Odgren suffers from made him lose touch with reality.”
[Prosecutor] Bennett, though, offered a more sinister explanation, describing a calculating killer who went to school that day armed with a large kitchen knife and a plan. In the days before, the prosecutor said, he had signed off of a social networking Web site and told his friends he was going to be missing for “awhile.”
Once he got to school, Odgren walked by the bathroom he most commonly used and went into another bathroom, remaining there alone for a couple of minutes, and then went to a third bathroom, Bennett said.
He walked in at the same time as Alenson, 15, while another student, Stephen Weiss, was in a stall.
“Stephen Weiss heard a voice he didn’t recognize – he didn’t know James Alenson – and that voice said, ‘What are you doing? You’re hurting me. Stop,’ ” Bennett said.
Alenson stumbled out of the bathroom and collapsed, while Odgren told Weiss to come out of the bathroom. He said, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you. Go get some help.”
Teachers and other school workers came rushing to the bathroom and found Odgren kneeling by the gasping Alenson. He told one teacher, “I just exploded. It was a mistake.” . . .
Alenson was rushed to the hospital, where he died from the eight stab wounds.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
On May 10, 2007, at approximately 11:45 P.M., six shots were fired from a passing white Toyota Camry automobile at a group of people gathered on the front steps and porch of a Springfield house. One of those shots struck fourteen year old Dymond McGowan in the abdomen and caused her death. . . .
The defendant was associated with the “SWAT Team,” which began as a group of friends who played music and basketball together in Springfield and later became allied with the Eastern Avenue gang. The SWAT Team was a rival of a number of other Springfield street gangs, including the Bristol Street gang, and the rivalry resulted in fights and shootings. The house targeted in the shooting on May 10, 2007, 338 Wilbraham Road in Springfield, was near the corner of Bristol Street and was a “hang-out spot” for the Bristol Street gang.
At approximately 9:30 P.M. on May 10, Donnell Godbolt, a SWAT Team member, borrowed his girl friend’s white Toyota Camry automobile. Godbolt and the defendant drove to the home of Robert Morales, another SWAT Team member, and Godbolt asked Morales for a gun. Morales gave Godbolt a .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol, and Godbolt left with the defendant.
Also that night, Godbolt picked up a friend, Robert Lee Arnold, Jr. Godbolt dropped Arnold at his grandmother’s house on Tyler Street in Springfield, where Arnold picked up two duffel bags of clothes. Godbolt later returned to drive Arnold to Western New England College, this time accompanied by Alexander Vaughn. When they left Tyler Street, Godbolt was driving; Vaughn was in the front passenger seat; Arnold sat in the rear seat behind the driver; and the defendant, who had been hanging out with others on Tyler Street, sat in the rear seat behind Vaughn; a child’s car seat was in the back seat, between the defendant and Arnold. All occupants of the vehicle were either members of the SWAT Team or affiliated with the SWAT Team or the Eastern Avenue gang.
En route, rather than take a right turn toward Western New England College, Godbolt headed in a different direction, down Wilbraham Road. As the vehicle slowed at the traffic light, with the headlights now off, the defendant opened the rear passenger window, leaned out and fired six shots at the people standing on the first-floor porch and steps of the house at 338 Wilbraham Road. Arnold did not see the defendant fire the shots because his view was obstructed by the two duffel bags on his lap, but he saw the defendant pull his upper body back into the car after the shooting holding a black object that looked like a gun, and heard the defendant yell, “SWAT Team.” [Note 2] No other eyewitness identified the defendant as the shooter.
After the shooting, Godbolt drove to Morales’s home and returned the pistol to Morales. The defendant wiped the gun with his T-shirt before placing it in Morales’s black bag, and said that he “just did the hit on Bristol.” In the early hours of the next day, the defendant visited the home of Paul Fowler, who was one of the founders of the SWAT Team, and told Fowler that he “just went riding to the . . . other side,” which Fowler understood to mean that the defendant had been riding through another group’s territory. When Fowler drove his girl friend home that night, the defendant came along and suggested they drive down Wilbraham Road, where they saw that the police had secured the crime scene. The defendant said, “This is the spot I just hit up,” adding that he was riding through, stuck his hand out the window, and started firing. He then said, “I don’t know if I hit anyone. It was probably one of those Bristol Street boys.”
At approximately 4 P.M. on May 11, Morales gave the pistol to Aaron Jackson. Around 7 P.M. that night, a Springfield police officer responded to a street disturbance and pulled his cruiser up next to Jackson, who ran away from the cruiser and later threw a firearm over a fence. The firearm, a .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol, was soon retrieved. Sergeant John Crane of the State police, a firearms examiner, compared cartridges test-fired from this pistol with the six cartridge cases that were retrieved from the scene of the shooting, and determined that this pistol had fired the six shots.
On May 12, after it was reported in the media that a fourteen year old girl had been killed in the shooting, the defendant returned to Morales’s home and, when asked about the incident, said that he “didn’t mean for this shit to happen.” He explained that, “when I was shooting, the dude pulled the girl in front of him.” Fowler also saw the defendant and asked the defendant whether he felt bad that the girl had been killed, and the defendant replied that he did.
Swinkels Laporte, August 29, 2007 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but the Boston Globe reported briefly as follows:
Two Springfield men have been found guilty of killing their friend’s mother just after they had robbed her home.
Swinkels Laporte and Maxwell Wiggins were found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder and other charges after three days of deliberations by a Hampden Superior Court jury.
Prosecutors say the 20-year-old men shot 46-year-old Tracy Bennett outside her home as she returned from a night out in August 2007. The suspects were friends with Bennett’s son and had been to her home many times. They ran into her after robbing her son inside the home.
Adilson Neves, February 16, 2008 (Age 17)
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but the Patriot Ledger told the story of the case as follows:
Two Brockton worlds collided on Feb. 16, 2008, the night that Edward Francis Conley, a 56-year-old father of two, was shot dead through the back of the head during a robbery of his cab on Galen Street, a dead-end off Centre Street, Route 123.
In one world was Conley, part of a city family with roots dating to 1879, that included businessmen, politicians, police officers and teachers. . . .
In the other world was 17-year-old Adilson F. “Manny” Neves and his friends, unemployed high-school dropouts who spent their time on “blunt rides,” emptying tobacco from cigar wrappers, filling them with marijuana and smoking them as they cruised the streets, headed nowhere in particular.
Neves, who turns 21 today, was sentenced Tuesday in Brockton Superior Court to spend the rest of his life in state prison with no chance of parole. A jury took less than 90 minutes Friday to convict Neves, of 59 Plymouth St., of first-degree murder in Conley’s death.
. . . Neves admitted that he intended to rob the cab driver and was holding the loaded gun at the time it discharged. Neves claimed in the interview that the shooting was accidental.
His friend, Jeffrey Milton, testified last week that he went with Neves and two others to Galen Street because Neves wanted to rob a cab driver “to get money for weed.” Milton, 16 at the time of the killing, testified in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.
The SJC summarized the case as follows:
The defendant and Bonrad Sok, on the one hand, and the victim, on the other, were members of rival gangs. The Commonwealth introduced evidence that the murder was committed in retaliation for a stabbing of the defendant by the victim approximately five weeks before the victim’s murder. At the time of the stabbing, Sok and Vannarith Chhay (Chhay) had been with the defendant. Evidence also was presented that, two months prior to the shooting, the defendant’s then girl friend overheard him telling someone that he had a gun, but that it was not in his possession.
In the late afternoon on November 1, 2007, the victim and his girl friend went to a restaurant in Lynn and sat at a booth inside. Nearby, Sok shared a table with Maverick Tran (Tran), Rebecca Pen, and her brother Moses. Sok borrowed Rebecca’s cellular telephone, ostensibly to contact his girl friend. Ten to fifteen minutes later, the defendant [Note 6] and Chhay arrived at the restaurant and joined Sok’s group.
The victim and his girl friend got up and left the restaurant, followed by Sok, Tran, and Chhay. Outside, Sok asked the victim whether he was a “cuz,” meaning “crip.” The victim asked him why, and Sok repeated the question. When the victim answered affirmatively, the three men tried to “jump” and hit him. They chased the victim around his automobile, which was parked directly in front of the restaurant, as the victim’s girl friend told them to stop.
The victim ran back inside the restaurant, followed by the three men. According to Rebecca, the defendant was at the front door when the men returned. There was a “fight” and the defendant fell on the floor. When the victim’s girl friend reentered the restaurant, she saw Sok hitting the victim as he was held in a “bear hug” from behind by Chhay. The restaurant owner’s son broke up the fight and told the group to leave. The victim and his girl friend left, followed by the defendant, Sok, Chhay, and Tran. The victim’s girl friend did not recall seeing the defendant at the restaurant, inside or outside, but his presence there was established by Rebecca, the owner, and the owner’s son, all of whom previously knew him.
The victim’s girl friend was the only witness who testified to what next transpired. After leaving the restaurant, she and the victim walked over and stayed at the victim’s automobile. Sok, Chhay, and Tran walked past them, and some distance away, to the left of the restaurant sign. The men faced the victim and his girl friend, and Sok and the victim exchanged words. The victim’s girl friend heard a “ring” in her ear and looked at herself to see whether she had been shot. The victim said, “Babe, I got shot,” then dropped to the ground. Tran’s “jaw dropped,” and he looked “shocked.” Sok and Chhay were gone. The victim’s girl friend ran inside the restaurant and asked someone to telephone 911. . . .
The victim, who was found on the ground partly leaning against the front entrance to the restaurant, was transported to a hospital where he died.
Joshua Fernandes, May 30 2010 (Age 16
The SJC’s 33E opinion is not yet available in this case, but CBS reported that:
Two Dorchester men convicted of killing a 14-year-old boy riding his scooter back in 2010 were sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday. . . .
Prosecutors said back in May 2010, Fernandes and Lopes pulled Fomby-Davis off his scooter while he was riding around in Dorchester. They then shot him twice and quickly fled the scene.
According to the Dorchester Reporter:
Prosecutors proved that the two men— associates of a gang from Homes Ave.— targeted Fomby-Davis and teamed up to grab him off his scooter near the corner of Bowdoin and Olney Streets. Fernandes fired the four shots that killed the boy. The attack was apparently revenge for a near-accident between Lopes and Fomby-Davis’ older brother, who had been riding the scooter earlier. Lopes and Fernandes lay in wait for the scooter to return.
There are three additional more recent cases which appear on the list we received from Public Safety, but not on the list we received from CPCS which ran through 2012. The Globe summarized those three cases as follows:
Laquan Miller, 17, guilty in the first-degree murder of Wilfredo Martinez, 23.
Miller was convicted and sentenced this summer for gunning down and killing Martinez, a 23-year-old cook, on the steps of an apartment building in Roslindale’s Archdale Village public housing development, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office. Miller, who was a student at the South Boston Education Complex, also injured Martinez’s friend Kareem Dowling during the June 5, 2011, shooting, Wark said. “It happened so quick,’’ Lloyd Dowling told The Boston Globe in 2011 about the assault, which his son later described to him.
Ricardo Arias, 17, guilty in the first-degree murder of Alex Sierra, 18.
Arias shot Sierra several times on Sept. 3, 2011, after Sierra confirmed that he lived in the Villa Victoria housing project in the South End, a location that is affiliated with a gang that rivaled Arias’ Mission Hill-based group. Prosecutors said Sierra had no affiliation with either gang or their feud. He died of his injuries later at Boston Medical Center. Arias was in the custody of the Department of Youth Services at the time, but had gotten a day pass to go see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, which he left early to meet 16-year-old Antonio Saez and travel to Villa Victoria together. Arias was sentenced to life in prison in July 2013.
Nyasani Watt, 17, guilty in the first-degree murder of Jaivon Blake, 16.
Watt was 10 days shy of his 18th birthday when he gunned down Blake and his 14-year-old friend on Geneva Avenue on Sept. 25, 2011. Watt and 18-year-old Sheldon Mattis, who helped Watt conceal the .40-caliber pistol used in the murder, were part of a gang bent on killing rivals. The pair had targeted Blake and his friend because the friend told Mattis in a casual conversation outside a Walgreens that he lived on Everton Street, which Watt and Mattis considered enemy territory. Watt and Mattis were both sentenced to life in prison earlier this month.
The Globe story mentions one additional defendant that we have not confirmed from another source: Xzeniyeju Chukwuezi.