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Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 206-1942.

Posted On: January 3, 2013

ALLSTON MAN MAY PLEAD SELF-DEFENSE IN NEW YEAR'S EVE STABBING

In yesterday's blog, we began discussing this, the first homicide for The Boston area in 2013. Yesterday, the recipient of the stabbing remained unnamed and unknown. Yesterday, Brian T. MacDonald, 24, of Brighton (hereinafter, the "Defendant") was arraigned.

The deceased's name was Anthony "Tony" Spalding. He was a young music producer and art student. He is said to have died as a result of the brawl he had in Allston with the Defendant on New Year's Day.

Mere hours after an indie rock album he had produced was released.

Spaulding became the city’s first murder victim of 2013 when he was killed just before 3 a.m. Tuesday? Friends and fans remembered Mr. Spalding, stating that he will live on in the songs he helped create.

“Tony knew what he was doing and definitely would have been a force to be reckoned with,” said Tyler Kinsherf of the indie folk band Anika Scribbling. “Anything music he was into. He’s left behind a legacy. These files, these tunes will exist forever.”

Spalding died as a result of being stabbed during the fight outside his home on Pratt Street in Austin.

The Defendant,, an assistant manager for Sears Automotive, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge yesterday in Brighton District Court. He was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail by Judge David T Donnelly.

Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Holly Broadbent described for the court the investigation which led to the Defendant's arrest. Apparently, investigators tracked the Defendant down by following a 2 mile trail of blood that the police suggest dripped from cuts on three of the Defendant's fingers. The cuts required emergency room attention.

Broadbent said Spaulding’s 2:40 a.m. request that party guests “quiet down” sparked an argument with the Defendant that exploded into a violent and bloody brawl that resulted in both men tumbling down a staircase and out into the yard. There, they “were rolling on the ground, fighting.”. According to Broadbent, the Defendant was captured on film "running from the crime scene" by a nearby commercial surveillance camera.

“There is no evidence that the victim was ever armed,” The prosecutor added.

It is unknown, at this point, whether there is any evidence that indicated that the Defendant was armed prior to the fight.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Early Claim Of Self-Defense

What is not indicated in this story, but was released on the radio, is that the defense attorney has already announced his defense. Apparently, it will be the defense of self-defense.

The fact that this is going to be the defense is less surprising than the fact that it has already been announced. This potentially forecloses the possibility of indicating that the defendant was actually not the stabber. After all, well there may be a video of the Defendant running away from the scene, I would be willing to bet that many people, particularly after the stabbing was revealed, ran away. In fact, as indicated in yesterday's blog, the police had to contain everybody so that they would not leave.

Of course, while the case is still in its infancy, the defense attorney very likely knows more of what the witnesses told police then we do. For example, we also do not know whether the defendant and the deceased were the only two who were involved in the fight. Often, friends on one or the other side, or both, join in if only to try to break up the fight. As for the bloody fingers, there could be all sorts of explanations.

"Hey Sam, does the fact that the defense attorney claimed that self-defense is going to be the actual defense in the case preclude him from raising these other defenses later?"

Actually, no. As long as one is not actually at the jury trial beginning the case arguing one theory and then, at the end of the case switching that theory, it should not be deadly to the defense.

There is still a risk however. If you're going to claim a particular defense early on you want to be able to stay with that, if possible. This is because you don't know who is going to end up being in your jury pool In what they had heard about the case previously.

"Sam, can the prosecutor tell the jury that the attorney had argued another theory of the case previously?"

No. Except in extremely limited circumstances, what the attorney may or may not have said about the case is not part of the evidence. If it was the Defendant who had made the statement, of course, it would be another story.

"Won't the judge at the trial Ask of the jurors whether they knew anything about the case prior and, if they did, can they still keep an open mind?"

Sure. But we know that Jurors are not always completely up front with that. Further, sometimes jurors believe they can still be fair and impartial but then find that they are influenced by what they already knew. The bottom line is that you want to be careful with what public statements you say, if you are an attorney, because those statements could come back to haunt you come time of trial.

"How strong is the self-defense defense in this case?"

Let's discuss that tomorrow as we finish discussing this case.


For the original article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/01/victim_leaves_%E2%80%98legacy%E2%80%99_music