Last week, we discussed the story of a Dorchester woman who had allegedly been involved in a matter of deadly domestic violence. According to the Commonwealth, the result was murder and 28-year-old Dorchester woman Cherry Clinton (hereinafter, the “Defendant” was charged with stabbing her former boyfriend to death with a knife.
Usually, such cases do not have many witnesses. They happen at home. In private.
It turns out that such was not completely the case this time. In fact, one witness did all he could not to be a witness.
“My daughter came into the room and said, ‘Daddy, they’re fighting again,’ so I turned on the music to drown out the noise,” Robert Ennis said of the “banging” he heard coming from[the Defendant’s] apartment at the housing development. “I didn’t want to hear it.”
At about 10 a.m. Friday, another neighbor, Guerlande Merisier, also said she heard arguing and “banging, like falling on the floor.” Minutes later, she said, she saw the Defendant outside, crying, telling first responders, “Come in right away, my baby’s unconscious.”
Ennis said he never called police because after he testified a few years ago against a man accused of gunning down a youngster outside his building, a brick was thrown through his window.
“The streets aren’t forgiving,” the 50-year-old father of three said. “When you weigh it all out, I got to take care of my family.”
The killing marks at least the fifth domestic violence homicide this year, said Toni Troop, a spokeswoman for the victim’s advocacy program Jane Doe, Inc.
Might I note that we are just finishing month number two?
People who are concerned about someone’s welfare can always call 911 anonymously and ask that police do a well-being check, she said.”We a appreciate people are afraid to get involved,” Troop said, “but sometimes all it takes to save a life is a call.”
This is the type of atmosphere in which crime can thrive. My years of experience in the criminal justice system extend in two states…many cities and towns. In communities where neighbors are simply “them”, it is easier to dwell in anonymity. Anonymity makes the unfathomable acceptable.
And, yes, it makes it easier for someone to “lose it”. If nobody intervenes, even by calling the police, then a tragedy is often on its way.
The fear, however, on the part of witnesses, is real. This is why it is vital that prosecutors and police officers stand by their words of protection for witnesses. However, the reality for witnesses is too often the same as those who are later charged. Namely, they are told whatever is necessary to get them to cooperate in the investigation..
The truth is that once a witness makes a statement, the Commonwealth will likely do anything necessary to get that person to the witness stand at time of trial. Even upon threat of throwing them in jail by means of a warrant until they testify.
“What if the witness later realizes that his or her prior statement was incorrect…or, in fact, a lie?”
Then, it is even worse. The testimony had better match with the prior statement, or the person is presumed to be lying at the time of trial and so risks prosecution for perjury or anything else the Commonwealth can bring to bear to force the testimony.
“But, that sounds like witnesses might be forced to lie on the stand.”
You bet. Of course, the prosecutors do not do this intentionally. However, as far as the prosecution is concerned, the earlier statement…many times the statement upon which they built their case…was the truth. Period. We have often discussed the lack of open-mindedness on the part of the Commonwealth in such matters.
So, am I suggesting never lending a hand to the police or a victim-to-be?
No. It is, however, another plea to the Commonwealth to really think about the promises it makes as well as remembering that they could be wrong in certain prosecutions.
Earlier today, I tried to convince myself I could fly. I probably had a better chance of those words making a difference than the above.
However, what this means to you is what it always means to you. It is information. I do not want to see a society where we call hide and turn the other way when we could make a difference in helping someone of being a “good citizen”. On the other hand, I do not feel terribly comfortable with a society which feels it needs to do that because of the realities of the criminal justice system.
One day, if we do not expose the reality of the system to the public, meantime relying on prosecutorial propoganda alone, the system with completely crumble around us. Trying to avoid that is my primary goal with these blogs.
Here’s a novel idea…maybe change the realities of the system!
But in the meantime, be aware of it. That’s where these blogs come in.
If you want to discuss a case with me, feel free to call me at 617-493-3000 for a free initial consultation.
To view the original story, please go to: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1319674&srvc=rss