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) 492 3000.

Defense Lawyer Plans “Vigorous Defense” In Murder, Rape, Assault And Hatred Case Just Outside Of Boston

Today’s daily blog is actually a follow-up to yesterday’s blog, entitled, “Homicides, Assaults, Rape And Carnage In Shooting Spree One Hour South Of Boston “. Yesterday, I told you about the events which were reported in the streets of Brockton earlier in the week, made a few brief predictions and expressed sympathy for the accused’s attorney in any attempt to argue for his client’s release.

Of course, in this case, it did not take a legal expert of 25 years to predict that the gentelman was not likely to be going home any time soon.

Briefly, 22-year-old Kieth L (hereinafter, the Defendant”), is alleged to have gone on a rampage which included raping and shooting one woman, killing her sister, killing a local homeless man, leading the police on a chase, shooting at the police and then ending the chase by crashing into some cars.

He was arraigned at Brockton District Court yesterday, during which additional facts came to light. One of these items is the statement of the Defendant as to his motivations. It sort of reads like an odd type of “self-defense” argument which is unlikely to be successful in court.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant had told the police that he had hatched “an evil plan of mass murder and rape targeting victims he identified as non-white.” During the police interview, the Defendant allegedly said that he was fighting for a dying race” and that he was “fighting extinction,” according to a police report filed in court. He is also said to have admitted having stockpiled 200 rounds of ammunition to kill blacks, Hispanics and Jews.

The 18-page report by Brockton and state police described the Defendant as an obese, white man who lived with his mother and frequently surfed through racial propaganda on the Internet. ” [The Defendant] told us that people on these sites spoke the truth about the demise of the white race,” investigators wrote.

According to the chilling police report, the Defendant intended to end his bloody rampage at 6:30 p.m. at a synagogue near his Pleasant Street home, where Jewish people would be gathering for a bingo night. Then, he allegedly told police, he planned to shoot himself in the head.

“It really could have been a disaster,” said Joshua Cohen, rabbi of Temple Beth Emunah, where accused double-murderer the Defendant told police he planned to end his hate-fueled rampage by spraying a bingo night crowd of hundreds with bullets. “Only through the good work of Brockton police were we able to avert a huge disaster and tragedy
The Defendant pleaded “not guilty” yesterday in Brockton District Court on murder, assault and rape charges, and civil rights violations. The 320-pound, 6-foot-tall defendant was ordered held without bail. And sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for evaluation.

Aside from the charges of murder, assault with intent to kill and rape, the Defendant has been charged with three counts of criminal civil rights violations for each of his three alleged victims.

The Defendant had lived with his mother and kept to himself, other than going to the gym. A law enforcement source called him a “recluse” who spent hours on his computer, and tooled around the neighborhood on his bicycle.

“He was my whole life,” the Defendant’s mother cried yesterday, adding that her son battled mental illness. “I swear, I never thought he’d be capable of something like this.”

The Defendant’s lawyer did not deny the allegations in court, only saying that his client had a “history.” He also added that he plans a “vigorous defense”.

Yes, good luck with that.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

As expected, there is likely to be some kind of diminished capacity defense here, as well as an issue as to the Defendant’s ability to stand trial.

As described in previous blogs, the issue of whether the defendant is competent to stand trial really comes down to whether he can understand what is happening in the courtroom, who the participants are and what it all means. The theory behind it is that, unless he can at least have a rudimentary understanding of this, he cannot participate in his own trial and so cannot be fairly tried.

A diminished capacity defense has more to do with the moment of the crimes. In other words, was the Defendant able to understand right from wrong and what he was doing when he performed the various acts.

While many of us might think that a person capable of doing what the Defendant did cannot be terribly stable…or even what we would call “sane”…this is not the legal test. Under the law, someone can be unbalanced as well as filled with racial hatred and still be able to appreciate the content of his actions. I would suggest, of course, that this makes sense.

As I wrote yesterday, I would say that such an “insanity defense” is likely to be the defense used in this case. While we do not yet know all the particulars, it appears to be a very strong case and an extremely serious one. If convicted of the murders, the Defendant is facing two life sentences (without parole). The rape and assault charges in this case also carry the possibility of life sentences.

One wonders why, on top of these charges, it is also necessary to pursue the “civil rights” angle. True, it plays nice in the press, but I wonder if it adds anything. Yes, the carnage was inspired by racial hatred. These were “hate crimes”. One cannot deny that to shoot and kill someone denies them of various of their civil rights. One wonders, though, if these would have been less serious crimes if not racially based.

But, I suppose, that is for more advanced minds than mine to figure out…!

In the meantime…

Have a good, safe and law-abiding weekend!

The full articles of this story can be found at http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2009_01_23_Suspect_in_Brockton_slayings_intent_on_carnage__police_say:_Sicko_kill_plot_emerges/srvc=home&position=4 , http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090123/NEWS/901230336/-1/NEWS01 and http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1147038

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