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.

Massachusetts Warrant Leads To Arrest Of Murder Suspect

Felix G., 30, of Worcester (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is no longer running from the law. That chase ended yesterday in New Jersey as law enforcement caught up with him and now prepare to bring him back to the Boston area, where he will be needing a very good criminal defense attorney.

Authorities say that he was hiding at a relative’s apartment. He was hiding from a fugitive from justice charge. In other words, there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest from which he had fled. Perhaps that family member would have been more reluctant to house him if it had been known why the Defendant was hiding.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant and a roommate had been watching a soccer game and drinking beer on Sunday night. Then they began arguing about the game. Then, the Defendant decided to have the final word by shooting his roommate repeatedly in the back, killing him.

Apparently, the Defendant’s first attempt to flee did not include another state. He was found Monday morning drunk in a hotel lobby. However, the warrant for his arrest for the murder had not yet been issued, so he was released by the police who disturbed his slumber to bring him into custody.

Now, under some scrutiny as well, the Southbridge Police, who had initially detained the Defendant are explaining why he had been let go. Police Chief Daniel R. Charette said police ran all requisite checks on the Defendant, including contacting the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, but no warrants or information that would have prevented his release were found in the system until 30 minutes after the Defendant had been released Monday morning. Explaining why they had picked up the Defendant in the first place, he said that the officers “felt he was under the influence of alcohol and were concerned about him…We went over and found he was indeed under the influence of alcohol and we PC’d him (put him in protective custody).”

About 9:30 a.m. Monday, Southbridge police released the Defendant “because he was sober enough to go on his own,” the chief said.

“In a perfect world I know we’re supposed to catch them within half-hour commercial breaks, but it doesn’t always work that way,” the chief said. “They did their best, our people did their best and the court people did their best. That’s how the system works.”

Attorney Sam’s Take:

…And he is right. People are often shocked that the criminal justice system does not work at 100% efficiency, reflecting absolute perfection. It doesn’t…any more than any other such systems operated by man do. Frankly, given the possibilities, the fact that the Defendant was located so quickly is rather impressive.

Speaking of mankind…I know that people get excited about sports. People tend to take their favorite teams extremely seriously. However, regardless of what one sometimes views on the field, violence is not really the answer in proving that your team is better.

So…here is the question of the day…what possible defense could the Defendant have, assuming that the facts as recorded are actually true?

“Simple. He was drunk. He had no control.”

Sorry, voluntary intoxication is not a defense to a crime. Assault and battery and murder are not excusable because of being drunk unless you can show that the Defendant was given alcohol involuntarily and so had no control of the situation.

“Self-defense”. Maybe, although there is nothing to indicate anything other than a verbal altercation. Besides, the repeatedly placed bullets in the deceased’s back are not too helpful in such a claim.

Well, there are the old standbys, such as “it wasn’t me” , which is always possible although we are not aware of anything from the stories that would indicate that. Interestingly, if I were to tell you that the subject matter of the argument, the game, might be helpful, you would probably laugh. However, think about it. We know that sports games often set off violent arguments. It happens on the field. It happens in the streets. It happens in the home.

How often do we hear, for example, that domestic violence cases often occur during Superbowl Sunday? People take their games very seriously. Now, add to that the alcohol.

“But you said voluntary intoxication was not a defense!”

And it isn’t. However, that plus the game might be enough to knock down a charge of pre-mediated murder to something less. In terms of self-defense, as I said, we are not aware of anything to indicate that there had been a physical altercation before the shooting. On the other hand, we are not aware that there wasn’t. Also, we do not know the roommate’s temper or history. Could it be that the Defendant, drunk and extremely upset about the argument regarding the game saw his roommate as so heated he thought that he could be attacked?
Of course…simply fearing being attacked is not really enough to get an acquittal. It has to be reasonable fear and you are allowed to use as much force as you are being threatened with.

There is nothing to indicate that another gun was found.

So…chances for an acquittal do not look so great, especially since he took off, thereby giving the Commonwealth “consciousness of guilt” evidence. On the other hand, he was so drunk, he did not get very far. Again, will this help an attempt to knock the charge down so that the Defendant is not facing life without parole in prison?

Well, of course, we do not know that yet. I will suggest, however, that what is likely to make quite a difference is how good his lawyer is. If it is an attorney with experience in these types of cases, who is talented and skilled, then the Defendant’s chances for a more favorable resolution increase. If he is represented by someone who does not have those attributes…well…it’s going to be a harder climb.

So, once again, if you or a loved one is facing such a situation, I suggest you retain an attorney who can make that difference. Should you wish to discuss the matter with me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.

For the full articles upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1207852 and http://www.telegram.com/article/20091028/NEWS/910280438/0/BUSINESS

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