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.

Metro Boston Fugitive Sought For Assault Survives To Face A Judge And Hire A Lawyer

Boston-area police were worried that they were going to have another death on their hands. Hosea R., 33, of Newton (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), was being sought after beating a woman in her West Roxbury home early Saturday. As he eluded police, they worried he might end up needing a coroner instead of a lawyer as they feared he would try to commit “suicide by cop”.

“Suicide by cop” is a term often used in cases where a suspect engages with and fights against the police in order to avoid capture. The theory is that the suspect would actually rather be killed than be taken into custody and so they force the police into choosing between letting the suspect go or shooting him dead. It is more common when the alleged crime is a violent felony.

I will leave the choice most often taken to your imagination for now. However, thankfully, the Defendant was finally taken into custody and nobody died.

The allegations against the Defendant stem from the an incident reportedly taking place at approximately 5:00 a.m. on Saturday, the 27th of December. According to the police, the Defendant and a female friend had gone out for a night of dancing at a Randolph nightclub. Apparently, things went awry somehow and he allegedly began to punch and kick his female friend when they got to her place. By the time police arrived, the Defendant was gone. The assault victim was transported to a local hospital where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The Defendant is said to have called his mother in Newton after the beating. She drove to meet him in a Dedham mall parking lot. In the meantime, the Dedham police received a phone call from “someone related to the suspect” who said that the Defendant was acting strange and talked of hurting himself. The relative further stated that the suspect said he was not afraid if the police attempted to hurt him.

And so it was that mother and son came to meet in Dedham…until they had company. When the police arrived, the Defendant fled and alluded them.

The Defendant thereafter called the police and said he was going to go to the Boston hospital where the beating victim was being treated and “get into a confrontation with police and the victim,” said Boston police Superintendent Daniel Linskey at a press conference at police headquarters.

“Our crisis negotiation team began contacting the suspect and actually worked with local clergy to get him to turn himself in,” Linskey said. In the end, Linskey said, the Defendant chose to “think about the future as opposed to the past.”

On the run for more than 24 hours, the Defendant surrendered in front of the Christian Science reflecting pool after a lengthy discussion with the crisis negotiators.

“[He was] very calm. He is tired, and I think he just wanted to get it over with and get some help,” said Sergeant Detective Courtney Matthews, head of the Boston police crisis negotiation team.

The Defendant was unarmed when he was taken into custody, police said. According to the police report, the Defendant’s mother reported that her son had two kitchen knives.

Apparently, the Defendant has a history of mental illness and told his mother he wasn’t afraid to be killed by police, his mother and a police spokesman reported. The mother said she knows her son has many difficulties ahead, but a huge burden has been lifted off her shoulders now that she knows he is safe. She is also glad that no police officers were hurt.

“I said ‘Thank you, Jesus, for your angels,’ ” she said. “I’m just really thankful. . . . No mother wants to lose her son.”

Upon apprehension, the Defendant was taken to an area hospital for psychiatric evaluation. He faces charges of assault and battery and could face additional charges from several unrelated warrants, police said. He was arraigned in West Roxbury District Court, according to a spokeswoman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

His mother said that she hopes now that the healing will begin. “Now he’ll get the help he needs and the help I’ve been praying for,” she said. “Now I’m praying for the young lady.”

Attorney Sam’s Take:

The Defendant’s mother in this case plays an interesting role. She goes out to meet her son when he calls for help and somehow an unnamed “family member” calls the police and tells them where mother and son are to meet. The police say that the Defendant is unarmed, but she says he has two knives.

I don’t know about the knives report, but it may be she is a loyal reader to this daily blog and so figured that, since he was not going to get too far anyway, if she was able to ease her son’s apprehension, he would be less likely to be killed.

If this was her thinking…she was probably right.

Somehow, she was able to gain some kind of trust with the police and, according to the reports, help them negotiate her son’s surrender. Remember that the Defendant apparently had mental issues and was really setting up a scenario that he was likely to end up dead.

Law enforcement does not take too kindly to confrontation…especially when it is announced that someone they have already determined to be a victim is in danger. On the other hand, they prefer not to kill their suspect.

Let’s hope she was also as good at contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney for act two of this drama.

This case also brings up the issue of mental capacity. The laws regarding such issues are confusing and complicated. Basically, there are two potential issues. One is whether the person was capable of determining right from wrong at the time of the crime. That is what is usually thought of as the “insanity defense”. The other issue is whether the defendant is capable of understanding his circumstances to the degree deemed necessary to stand trial. The issue for this determination is whether the defendant understands enough of the what is happening (i.e., what a judge does and what that lady calling herself his “lawyer” is for) so that he can participate in his own trial.

From the surface, it is seems that neither of these two issues is likely to prevent the matter from going forward. The Commonwealth will argue he clearly knew right from wrong, which is why he ran. Of course, the claim could be made that at the time of the assault he actually did not know understand the difference. All we know of his capability to stand trial is that he seemed to know who and what the police were.

It is also worth noting that the Defendant apparently had pending warrants which greeted him as he came to court. This would indicate he has been down this road before…which would not help either argument on his part.

“Suicide by cop” does happen at times and is something that law enforcement tries to avoid, despite some people’s presumption. While it would seem to give a suspect the feeling of going out in a “blaze of glory”, it is really not “glory” at all. It is a more permanent way of giving up.

Better to go the legal route. You may not like attorneys…but you can always change your lawyer.

Kinda hard to replace death.

The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/12/29/assault_suspect_surrenders_after_eluding_police/ , http://wbztv.com/local/boston.suspect.search.2.895901.html , http://www.wickedlocal.com/newton/news/x16589524/Boston-police-seeking-public-s-help-in-search-for-Newton-suspect and http://www.dailynewstribune.com/police_and_fire/x1277300605/Newton-man-surrenders-after-search

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