Two years ago, a group of men capped off a friend’s funeral by allegedly committing murder. These gentlemen were in South Boston and are now hereinafter referred to, collectively, as the “Defendants”.
It was August, 2009, and the Defendants, dressed in their red tuxedos had apparently decided to go “clubbing” to drown their sorrows after the funeral. According to the Commonwealth, they had a verbal disagreement with 22-year-old Jose “Danny Alicea and two of his friends outside Club 33 on Stanhope Street.
A melee erupted between the two groups.
Police arrived to find Mr. Alicea lying on the ground, bloody and unconscious. People were trying to wake him.
They couldn’t. He was dead.
The first group of the Defendants, Jason Benalfew, 28; Daniel Ek, 24; and Johan Garcia, 30, all of Lynn; and Anthony Villalobos, 23, of Revere, began their second-degree murder trial on Monday. A second group of the Defendants will be tried at another date.
In his opening statement, the prosecutor acknowledged to the jury that none of the Defendants intended to actually kill Mr. Alicea. “But make no mistake about it”, he explained, “This was no accident.”
All four defense attorneys decided to make opening statements on behalf of their clients. They argued that law enforcement had unfairly lumped their clients together amid the chaos. They further pointed out that, under the law, merely being present at the scene of a homicide is not a crime.
One defense attorney predicted that the case will be too confusing to reach a verdict. He told the jurors, “You will have more questions than answers about who did what.”You won’t be able to tell whether one is going in the direction of the (brawl) to help, to watch or to fight.”
Through my quarter century of experience in criminal law practice, I have brought many cases to trial. Through many years of training less experienced attorneys and law students on trial practice, I have been intimately involved in many more trials.,
Trials are the “moment of truth” in the trenches. It is the front line of the mounting battle between defense and prosecution in any given case. While every case is different, certain things tend to happen more times than not.
For example, beginning a trial telling the jury that they are unlikely to understand what the heck happened in the case they are about to hear is generally not a great idea. First of all, the prosecution has just laid it out for them. While it is fine to say that the Commonwealth is not going to be able to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, starting the trial by basically insulting the jury is not terribly wise.
It basically challenges them to be sure to keep their facts straight in spite of you. “in spite of you” translates to they do not like you. Not liking you is not going to help your client.
These type of cases do have their difficulties built into the prosecution. After all, this was a melee by all accounts. There will unquestionably be issues as to who did what. Even if the Commonwealth’s witnesses offer clear accounts about how events transpired, there will be questions as to their ability to perceive.
Is that the end of the prosecution’s hope to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt?
As we have often discussed, the Commonwealth’s theory in these cases are that the Defendants acted in a joint enterprise. It is a conspiracy-type of theory. Should they be able to show that the Defendants acted together, each defendant will be responsible for what their co-defendants did. True, the defense may argue that this is not fair, but the judge and prosecution will tell the jury that it is the law.
This is not a “Murder One” case. The prosecution does not have to show that there was “deliberate premeditation”. Merely “Malice aforethought”. There are differences, which the court will explain to the jury. Additionally, the jury could convict the Defendants if it finds that the killing was caused while in the commission of a felony not punishable by life imprisonment.
Yes, assault with a dangerous weapon qualifies.
So, the bottom line is that this case is not a “slam dunk” for any side.
Clearly, an experienced trial attorney will increase chances of success. But then, I have told you that many times already.
If you have a criminal case to face, and would like to discuss it with me, please feel to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
To view the original story, please go to : http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1313770