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.

BURLINGTON IS SCENE OF GRUESOME DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TURNED HOMICIDE CASE

…And the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog begins the week with a bit of horror out of Burlington, Massachusetts.

According to authorities, Christopher Plantedosi (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was the featured player in this particular piece of massive ugliness. He is said to have pursued his ex-girlfriend, Kristen Pulisciano, into their daughter’s bedroom and having stabbed her 34 times. The homicide was witnessed by someone who actually was not there.

The witness was someone with whom the daughter had been video chatting with on an iPad.

The details were delivered by the Commonwealth at the Defendant’s arraignment yesterday in Woburn District Court. The prosecutor explained that said witness both saw and heard portions of the attack, including Ms. Pulisciano pleading, “Chris, please stop, I love you,” and the Defendant saying, “You’re going to die.”

Ms. Pulisciano’s body was found at about 6:45 p.m. Thursday at her home on Forbes Avenue.

Prosecutor Nicole Allain gave more gruesome details. She argued that the Defendant showed up at the home at 6 p.m., while the 15-year-old-daughter was in her bedroom video chatting on an iPad with a friend. The girl heard her parents arguing in the kitchen and went to see what was wrong. Seeing her father with a knife, she asked, “What, are you trying to kill Mom?”

The cold answer was forthcoming.

The Defendant then chased Ms. Pulisciano, who fled to her daughter’s bedroom. The Defendant is said to have kicked down the door and attacked Ms. Pulisciano. The person the daughter had been video chatting with was still on the line as he plunged. It was not clear where the daughter was during the attack.

The Defendant is described as having used both a meat cleaver and a knife in the slaying, Allain said.

As background, the Commonwealth indicates that the Defendant and Ms. Pulisciano had a long-standing, live-in relationship that had recently become problematic. Over the course of their relationship, there had been prior allegations of violence made by Ms. Pulisciano against the Defendant. The Commonwealth also revealed that Ms. Pulisciano had tried to commit suicide in days prior to the attack and had been released from a mental health facility the day before the attack with prescriptions for antidepressants and sleeping pills.

Making the case just alittle more macabre, the Defendant was taken into custody at the Weston State Police barracks on Friday. At the time, he apparently had two handwritten notes describing details of the attack.

The Defendant was held without bail.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Domestic Violence, Murder And Insanity

In many ways, this seems to be the classic fact scenario which brought us to the point where we are today. I am referring to how serious any allegation, no matter how big or small, of domestic violence is treated by the Commonwealth. It is also why, in most cases, once the original complaint is made, prosecutors are extremely reluctant to drop charges when the complainant comes in and explains that she wants to withdraw the complaint.

Apparently, there is a history of abuse, or, at least, alleged abuse in this matter. I note that the Defendant does not seem to have been in jail. Nor does there seem to have been a probation surrender which leads me to believe that he was not on probation.

And so the question becomes “what happened in the earlier cases?”

“Well, Sam, couldn’t Ms. Pulisciano have dropped the charges or refused to testify? After all, isn’t there some kind of privilege here?”

Unless there is some basis for a Fifth Amendment privilege (not to incriminate oneself), no. There is a spousal privilege, however. The state cannot force a spouse testify against another except in certain circumstances. Interestingly, one of those circumstances is when the allegations involve doing something to a child. In this case, one has to wonder if that would have been a factor. Anyway, the Defendant and Ms. Pulisciano were apparently not married and so there would have been no spousal privilege.

While the Defendant has been arraigned in district court for the murder, the case will not end there. First of all, district court has no jurisdiction to continue the prosecution for murder. The case will have to be indicted and moved to superior court. We also do not know what happened to the daughter and what, if any, criminal charges will be brought regarding anything done to her.

“It sounds like there can be no defense in this case. Isn’t that right?”

Well, as horrid as the allegations are in this case, it is important to remember that they are just allegations at this point. Nothing has been proven. Further, the idea that there is no possible defense is seldom, if ever true.

At the very least, there might be some kind of insanity defense. I am intrigued with the two letters the Defendant is alleged to have brought with him to the police.

Well, I think we will be hearing more about this case in days to come.

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/05/suspect-ordered-held-without-bail-fatal-burlington-stabbing-mother-two/hY9LDws4PywoH437mV3fTO/index.html

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