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.

Boston-Area Man Is Charged With Robbing And Assaulting Elderly Woman In Wheelchair

Sometimes, you find a case that seems to reveal a new low in criminal acts. As a Boston criminal defense attorney for many years, I have seen more than my fill.

Allegedly, that is.

A Brighton man was arrested Monday night for allegedly robbing a 67-year-old woman who uses a wheelchair for mobility purposes, according to police officials.

Jerdon B, 48, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is said gentleman. At about 11:40p.m., officers responded to the Mission Hill neighborhood to investigate the event.
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The Defendant was charged with unarmed robbery for allegedly robbing the complainant while she was waiting for the Green Line trolley, police said. The suspect then allegedly pushed her onto the tracks on Huntington Avenue.

His reward? Ten bucks.

“The charges here are particularly disturbing, because the victim was both an older adult and used a wheelchair,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. “It’s something that we take very seriously.”

The officers responded after receiving a report of a woman screaming near Ward Street, according to the police report. When they arrived, several people were standing with the victim on the trolley tracks. Trains were still in service at the time, and the victim was helped off the tracks by the witnesses.

After searching the area, officers found the Defendant, but then lost sight of him when he fled behind an apartment building, police said. They say they later found him on a trolley that he boarded where the alleged attack occurred.

“Officers did note in the report that he had a strong smell of alcohol on his breath,” Boston Police Officer Eddy Chrispin said. “When asked if he had been drinking, he stated he had been consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana as well.”

the Defendant was arraigned yesterday in Roxbury Municipal Court, Wark said. Prosecutors recommended $10,000 cash bail, but it was set at $5,000, Wark said.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

As we have discussed in the past, certain classes of victims carry extra penalties for a potential defendant when assaulted. Examples of this would be the so-called “hate crimes” , elderly and children. People in wheelchairs fit into this category as well.

This is because the law considers it extra egregious for such people to be attacked because of their vulnerability.

This case has some other interesting tidbits as well. For example, the Commonwealth has at its disposal an additional argument to a potential jury (as well as to the judge in the bail hearing) to show the Defendant’s guilt. This would be “consciousness of guilt” evidence. I am referring to the Defendant’s alleged flight from the scene and from the police.

In this case, however, there may be a very strong counter-argument. An argument that will likely go to the heart of the defense here. The issue of identification.

After all, the police say that they found the right guy after he had left the scene. They say they then lost him and found him again afterwards. I would imagine that the defense would be arguing that it was not the same guy who robbed her.

If it is the wrong guy, then this guy they arrested did not flee.

“But, Sam, don’t you think the woman identified him?”

Sure she did. However, this was late at night. It was also a very frightening experience for her and we do not know how good her vision was under these circumstances. There is also nothing in the story to suggest that anyone who helped her made an identification.

Of course, we do not know if the Defendant here made any inculpatory statements.

Statements about the robbery, that is. His “I’ll tell you that and something you didn’t even ask” approach to questioning may well have led to a full confession.

In any event, many are the studies which show just how unreliable eyewitness identification can be. This case looks like a prime candidate for such an argument. After all, it is rather unlikely to be self-defense, and voluntary inebriation (by drink or smoke) is not a defense in these cases.

Should you or a loved one be facing criminal charges, or are under investigation for same, and you wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me at 617-492-3000.

To find the original story upon which this posting is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/06/_a_brighton_man.html

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