Here I am….bringing you bad news again. The Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog is saddend to tell you that you have been involved in a shooting. You and a few others went to try to conduct a simple robbery, but it did not go as smoothly as planned. You all had guns and you used them. You got away ok, but the police have come to your home.
To talk about the resulting murders.
The detectives tell you that five people were shot, many of them dead. You blurt out that you did not kill anybody and the police start saying something that is rather hard for you to believe.
Despite the fact that you have a criminal record long enough to wallpaper your room, the Detectives say that they know you are basically a “good guy”. You wouldn’t do this. Not you! On the other hand, they know you were there. They figure you left before the shooting began, though. They make it clear that if this is how it went down, you just have to help them get the “bad guys” who did the shooting and you can be a prosecution witness instead of a criminal defendant.
By the way, Murder One is punished by a sentence of Life without parole in Massachusetts.
What would you do?
Let’s bend our imaginations and assume that you agree to what they say and you identify the others who were with you, making sure you insist you left before the shooting ever started. A little time goes by, and suddenly one of the guns used that night turn up…in your house! Not only that, it has your brother’s fingerprints on it!!! Oh, did I mention that the gun matches bullets found in one of the homicide victims?
Is the gig up?
Well, you shrug and explain that your brother came in the other day, saw the gun (which you have never seen before), picked it up, said “nice gun” and put it back. That’s all.
Time stands still as you watch the agents of the law look at each other with straight faces. Then, they smile, shrug and each say, “Yeah, that makes sense. Sounds good to me!”
Now, obviously, this is a takeoff from the facts set before the jury in the ongoing “Mattapan Murders” trial that we discussed yesterday.
Let me be clear here. I do not know the true facts behind that case. I have had no involvement in it and am privy to no inside information. I do not know who is guilty of what and who is innocent about anything there.
I have, however, been involved with the criminal justice system for over 25 years.
I prosecuted murder cases in Brooklyn and have defended them here in the Commonwealth.
I know that such things can happen. Is it because the police are “crooked”? No, not necessarily. They usually believe that they are charging through to the right result.
A week or so you might have seen me on Boston’s Channel 7 news regarding an ongoing drug case I am handling. In that case, and in several others, an officer who had complete access to the evidence locker has confessed to stealing thousands of dollars from that location.
This would be, if you or I committed the crime, several counts of Grand Larceny at the very least. Further, because we had betrayed our position of trust, we would have gotten even worse punishment come the time of sentencing.
Not this officer. He simply had to answer questions about the extent of the crime and he was allowed to retire. No firing. No criminal charges.
And, really no corroboration it seems. Simply, his word was taken for the extent of the crimes. After all, why would he lie about something like this?
If you are interested, you can find the story here.
Yes, I would say that that was a crooked cop. So, it does happen. Further, the system is often set up so that the Commonwealth will protect one of “its own”.
The point is, if we have a system where prosecution witnesses and servants, once they earn the good fortune of being on the Commonwealth’s side, can slide through the criminal justice system with little to no damage because they are “part of the team”, then we have a very dangerous situation.
Because, as we have discussed many times, anybody can be arrested. It is easy to do. Just anger the wrong person…who gets to the police first.
And, like yesterday, I ask you…what happens in court? What happened in court in the Mattapan Murder star Commonwealth witness testified?
Alas, like yesterday, you must stay tuned to my next blog.