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.

MATTAPAN MASSACRE TRIAL INCLUDES TALES OF MURDER, ROBBERY AND QUESTIONABLE WITNESSES (Part One)

As you probably know, the trial about he so-called “Mattapan Massacre” has been
going on in Boston’s Suffolk Superior Court.

The case involves a multiple homicide in which four people including a
2-year-old boy were killed and a fifth man was shot but survived. The event
took place on September 28, 2010.

Yesterday, there was testimony that a .40-caliber handgun which was linked to the Massacre was found in the home of the prosecution’s star witness, Kimani Washington (hereinafter, the “Witness”).

According to Boston police detective Martin Lydon two .40-caliber shell casings were found near the intersection where the shooting occurred.

Lydon said those shell casings matched a .40-caliber Iberia found by police in Washington’s family’s home at 45 Fowler St. in Dorchester. The Witness, 36, has already testified he participated in a drug robbery of murder victim Simba Martin, but left before shooting began.

Which is likely how he is a Commonwealth witness in this case instead of being on trial as a defendant.

Speaking of people who are not defendants in this case, there is another interesting little coincidence. Government witnesses have also testified that the only fingerprints found on the .40-caliber Iberia belonged to Charles Washington, the brother of the Witness, and not either of the men on trial. That brother’s fingerprints also appear on a safe taken from the scene of the shootings…no fingerprints of the Defendants appearing thereon.

Before you suspicious types, like me, jump to conclusions about miscarriages of justice, Brother Charles has already explained about all those fingerprints. You see, he inadvertently handled the gun and safe that came from the scene of the shootings.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

While Witness and his brother are not on trial here, Dwayne Moore and Edward Washington, (collectively, the “Defendants”), are on trial for murder in the shootings as well as a host of related charges.

The Defendants have pleaded “not guilty” in the case and the defense attorneys have told the jury that the wrong men are on trial.

According to the Commonwealth, one of the deceased, Mr. Martin, had been the primary target for what was supposed to be a robbery but turned out to be far more. Three bullets were removed from Mr. Martin’s body. At least one of those bullets had come from the Iberia pistol.

Yes, that would be the gun found in Witness’ family home.

That’s right, the Witness, who the Commonwealth presents as the one of the crew who left and had nothing to do with the shootings.

Incidentally, Officer Lydon also told the jury that a 9mm Ruger pistol was also found at the Witness’ home. However, while ballistics evidence shows that a 9mm was also used…it was another brand. Not a Ruger.

You do understand, of course, if the extra gun had been found at one of the Defendants’ homes…it would have been further evidence of said defendant’s violent trade.

But, that is not this case, is it? The Witness is a Commonwealth witness and Brother Charles is his brother. I would imagine they are above suspicion and there is no reason to talk about nasty things like motivations to lie.

But, of course, I will anyway.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Government Witnesses And Theories

I think I have mentioned before the theory often used in Federal Court called “Willful Blindness”. It basically involves the allegation that a defendant knows, or has strong reason to know, that illegal activities are going on, but turns his head as he aids what is generally a conspiracy claiming, “I didn’t know what they were doing”.

I wonder if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will ever be charged via such a theory for the bastardization of the quest for truth and justice.

We have discussed many times how this works. The Commonwealth decides on a theory of their case. Then, whatever is consistent with that theory is important evidence. That which is inconsistent is unimportant or a lie.

“Sam, how does the Commonwealth come to its initial conclusion?”

Often, by what evidence comes their way first. Generally, whoever tells the prosecution what it wants to hear first moves from the defendant’s side of the table to the prosecutions side.

You see this a lot in simpler cases. Billy Bully starts pushing Vernon Victim around. Billy even punches Vernon and informs him that he is about to kill him. Vernon, afraid for his life, punches Billy back, maybe breaking Billy’s nose. Vernon runs away from the scene to avoid more violence. Billy, however, calls the police.

The next thing you know, Vernon’s new last name is “Defendant” and Billy is the Commonwealth’s complaining witness.

Why?

Billy got to the police first.

“But people do not always run to the police every time they have been victimized.”

You know that. I know that. One would imagine that the Commonwealth knows that. However, isn’t it easier to just go with the case you have been handed? Billy has shown his vote of confidence in the authorities…so he must be the victimized party.

Talk of “willful blindness”….!

Let’s look at how this often plays out at trial….in my next blog.

To read the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2012/03/gun-linked-mattapan-massacre-shootings-found-home-key-prosecution-witness/JuCQELDQxmJb5jANKNSdfL/index.html

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