An interesting case is developing in Massachusetts concerning whether a young woman’s text messages encouraging her friend to take his own life can be construed as involuntary manslaughter. Michelle Carter, of Plainville, was friends with Conrad Roy, of Mattapoisett, and the two engaged in the exchange of numerous text messages focusing on whether Roy should commit suicide and when and how to do it. Roy ultimately did kill himself, by sitting in his truck with a generator running, thereby causing him to die due to carbon monoxide exposure. Continue reading
The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reported that a triple murder trial is underway in the Salem Superior Court related to a 2011 murder of a Lawrence woman and her two teenaged children. Jose Luis Tejada has been charged with murder for the deaths of his girlfriend, Milka Rivera, 39, and her two children, Sachary Montanez, 19 and Max Ariel Montanes, 16 on September 4, 2011 during Labor Day weekend. The bodies were found all together in one of the children’s rooms. Continue reading
The hot topic before the state’s Senate right now is a bill that could give juveniles who are serving a life sentence the opportunity to become eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 20 years, the Berkshire Eagle reports. Continue reading
A twenty-four year Lowell Massachusetts man pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the shooting death of 17-year-old Tavaryna Choeun. According to The Lowell Sun, the defendant, identified as Srey, is accused of firing five shots into a car where Choeun was sitting in the passenger seat at a Lowell intersection. The authorities do not believe that Choeun was the intended victim. The shooting occurred on May 12, 2008 and Srey was just arraigned earlier this week on charges of first-degree murder, three counts of armed assault to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, two counts of illegal possession of a firearm without a firearms identification card and discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a building.
Although all of the facts are not known at this time it appears that a viable defense may be that Srey has been misidentified. The fact that there was a significant passage of time between the incident and an indictment suggests that the police may have had a difficult time having witnesses come forward. It may also be the case that some witnesses may have a motive to testify against Srey.
In Massachusetts, if you are charged with illegal possession of a firearm you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of eighteen months in the house of correction. Depending on the facts of the case, it may be appropriate to file a motion to suppress evidence if a gun was confiscated from your person, a car that you were in or in your apartment or home. Successful litigation of motions to suppress evidence can result in the suppression of evidence which is often the end of the case for the Commonwealth.
There was not a dry eye in the audience when a Norfolk County Jury convicted Ryan Bois for the death of a six year old Weymouth girl. According to the Boston Globe, in a courtroom filled with emotion, Judge Janet Sanders told a packed courtroom that this was the “worst she has seen in her fourteen years a a judge” before she imposed four life term sentences. Bois was convicted for the rape, murder and kidnapping of his six year old cousin, Joanna Mullin. According to news reports, the trial lasted six days and the jury deliberated for 8 hours before convicting Bois of first-degree murder, two counts of rape, home invasion, kidnapping, larceny of a motor vehicle, larceny under $250, malicious destruction of property under $250, failure to stop for a police officer and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
During the trial the defense maintained that Bois, 22 years old, was not guilty by reason of insanity. According to the Boston Globe, the Norfolk County prosecutor countered claiming that Bois’s action were calculated when he raped his young cousin, wrapped her body in bed sheets and a quilt, stole keys to his grandmother’s sport utility vehicle, and put the body in the back seat. The prosecutor presented evidence indicating that after committing this horrific crime, Bois called an acquaintance to get some drugs and during this conversation asked the acquaintance how to dispose of a body.
Understandably unable to listen to the details that led up to their daughter’s death Mullins parents stayed away during the trial. However, many relatives and friends attended the trial at the Norfolk Superior Court located in Dedham, Massachusetts. After the jury returned the guilty verdict the prosecutor read the victim impact statement that Joanna’s parents prepared.
Joanna’s aunt, informed the convicted murderer that, “. . . we did nothing but try to help you get your life together because you were family. . . There will never be an explanation that will mend the hole in our hearts. And in our minds, this is truly the ultimate betrayal. Our beautiful, perfect daughter should still be here today. Because of you, she is not.”
There are a number of theories that a prosecutor can present to a jury to secure a verdict for first degree murder. The most common theory is that a person commited a killing with deliberate premeditation with malice aforethought. To sustain a verdict under this theory the government must prove that the act of killing was the result of deliberate planning. It is not necessary that the prosecutor demonstrate that the killer had an elaborate plan, the deliberation can take a few hours, minutes or seconds. It is the deliberative process, no matter how long or short, that is forbidden.
Depending on the facts of a case, an experienced defense attorney can mount a successful defense of self-defense, defense of another or prove that the defendant was not the individual that committed the crime and it is a case of misidentification.
Kathleen Hilton was held in custody for ten years before an Essex County jury acquitted her of first degree murder. Hilton was charged with arson and murder of five people following a fire that tore through a triple decker home in Lynn, Massachusetts. Experienced Boston criminal defense attorney Michael Natola secured the not guilty verdict following delays which he described as “of monumental proportion” over the suppression of the confession that Mrs. Hilton gave to police. Further adding to the delay was litigation relative to Hilton’s competence.
During an interview with New England Cable News, retired Superior Court Justice Isaac Borenstein maintained that in this case, the court system took too long. Judge Borenstein was involved in some of the pre-trial hearings in this case and recognized that the case should not have taken ten years to go to trial. According to New England Cable News, Borenstein believes that the Massachusetts Court system has made strides to ensure that criminal cases move more quickly through the system.
In Massachusetts, a case must be tried within one year of a defendant’s arraignment. However, routine pre-trial delays, including a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and motion to suppress statements are generally excludable time periods and do not count towards the one year period. However, the time that a case languishes in a session following a hearing, provided experienced trial counsel pushes for a decision, in certain situations may be included in the one year time frame.