The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that a local couple has been charged with a laundry list of charges as the result of an altercation following a local couples dinner at a Danvers restaurant. According to reports, Matthew and Joanna Kotowski left an area dining establishment and headed home when a motorist drove up behind the pair and sandwiched himself between the couple. Matthew, upset by the driving of the motorist, followed the car. Apparently the driver approached Kotowski’s car and began yelling at him. At this point the accounts of what happened vary. The unruly motorist claims that Kotowski pointed a loaded firearm at him; Kotowski claims that he was acting in self-defense and pulled the gun out and put it on his lap to calm the motorist down. Eventually, the police arrested Kotowski at his home and charged him with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of improper storage of a handgun. The police searched Kotowski’s home and recovered a shotgun and two handguns in the home. Mrs. Kotowski was apparently so upset that the motorist was not charged that she returned to his establishment and will be summonsed to Court for hearings relative to the charges of being a disorderly person and assault and battery. Mr. Kotowski was arraigned in the Newburyport District Court and released on $5,000.00 cash bail. He is scheduled to be back in court on January 4, 2012 for a pre-trial conference.
Although all of the facts are not known at this time, there are a number of defenses to be considered based on this fact pattern. At the outset, an experienced Massachusetts defense attorney should engage the services of an investigator to return to the scene and determine whether there are witnesses that support the defendant’s claim of self-defense. In most circumstances, any investigation should be done sooner rather than later so that the memory of a witness is fresh and clear. Interviewing potential witnesses promptly can be the difference between mounting a successful or an unsuccessful defense.