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.

Attorney Sam’s Take: Domestic Violence Turned Murder-Suicide In Lynnfield Was Over The Naming Of A Child

William Shakespeare would have been puzzled with this one. As you have probably noticed, the news in the Boston area lately has been replete with shootings, murders and other varying assaults. Some are alleged drug-related. Others come from domestic violence matters.

Lynnfield, however, was the host of a murder-suicide this week over a name. You see, Joseph Cummings (hereinafter, “Alleged Shooter”) was excited in East Boston not so long ago. His girlfriend was pregnant and he was about to become a father.

He was a happy man.

Said happiness is said to have faded within the next two hours.

Authorities now say that Alleged Shooter, 51, then got into an argument with his 35-year-old girlfriend about the baby-to-come’s last name when he got home to Lynnfield.

Apparently, the issue was that while she wanted to hyphenate said last name; he did not want to hyphenate it. According to law enforcement, Alleged Shooter “won” the argument by shooting the 6-months’ pregnant girlfriend. Hearing the gunfire, the girlfriend’s 20-year-old sister, a college graduate who was applying to medical schools, jumped out of the window in fear.

Alleged Shooter shot and killed her from the window, before going to the bedroom and shooting himself.

The girlfriend also had a 12-year-old daughter, who is not related to Alleged Shooter at the home. She was “frozen in fear” and hid in another room After the shootings, she ran across the street to a neighbor’s house, where she called 911.

Police found several guns in the home, at least two of which they believe were used in the shootings. Alleged Shooter had no current license for the firearms, only one which had expired years ago.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a press conference that “we do our best in law enforcement to combat . . . the horrible scourge of domestic violence. This is another needless, senseless domestic violence tragedy ending in three deaths.”

While there was no history of police calls to the residence for domestic violence reasons, there were two restraining orders requested many years ago. Since then, however, the couple seemed to be the typical loving couple.

As Thanksgiving comes upon us, many of us look forward (negatively or positively or alittle of both) to a family gathering. It may be the season to “be jolly”, but it is also the season during which tempers can flare.

“Aw, come on, Sam. How many family arguments have you seen result in a multiple homicide-suicide?”

Well, don’t go by me. I spent years as a prosecutor in Brooklyn. I handled and saw cases where people were murdered for the sneakers or simply because of a cross word. I will, however, point to the homicide case of Nancy Kerrigan’s father at the alleged hands of her brother over the use of a telephone.

The criminal justice message is one you have heard before, however. It takes only one moment.

One very bad moment.

Because of that one moment, lives change and lives can end.

I don’t want to brag, but although there was some disagreement in the naming of my son, nobody killed anybody. What I say about dealing with the police (politely comply and so live to revisit the issue on another day) can be true with family gatherings. When tempers get hot, sometime people either do things intentionally or accidently that will forever effect the entire family together.

Getting out of the kitchen because you “can’t take the heat” is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of intelligence and self-control.

It may also save your live!

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding Thanksgiving!

If you have a criminal matter you would like to discuss with me, please feel free to call me at 617-492-3000 to set up a free initial consultation.

For the original story upon which today’s posting is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/11/24/police_say_lynnfield_killings_were_over_baby_name/?p1=News_links

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