Commonwealth v. M.F., Suffolk Superior Court, Murder

M.F., the client, was indicted by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office with Murder, Carrying a Loaded Firearm, Armed Assault to Murder, and Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon.  The indictments alleged that the defendant shot and killed the victim, and also shot another person, during a drug deal gone bad in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

In this case, the victim and his friend called to meet with my client and buy drugs from him. The meeting took place in Chelsea, inside of the victim's car. Once the defendant got in the car, the government alleged, the client shot and killed the driver, shot at the front seat passenger, stole their money and fled the scene.  The client was arrested several weeks later while "hiding" in a hotel room in Danvers, Massachusetts.

After his arrest, the client willingly gave a statement to the Massachusetts State Police.  He didn't deny that he was dealing drugs. He told them he was called and agreed to meet them and sell them some crack.  He got into the back seat of their car, took out his scale and placed the drugs on the scale. Suddenly, the drive turned around and came at him with taser, and the passenger turned in his seat and also came at him with a knife.  With nowhere to go, and believing he was going to be tasered, stabbed and possibly killed, he pulled out his gun and shot them both.

An extensive investigation produced information that the victim here had a bad drug habit.  A review of his cell phone records and discovery of friends known to him revealed that he was in the habit of "robbing drug dealers for their money and drugs."  He would seek out and arrange to meet drug dealers in various parts of Boston; tell them he was interested in buying drugs; but when he would meet them, he would rob them of their drugs and money.  When the drugs ran out, he would do it again.

At trial, the defense did not hide what happened here.  We admitted to the jury that the client was selling drugs.  That he met with the victim and his friend that night for the purpose of selling him drugs.  But also that the victim tried to rob and kill him.  The client elected to testify at trial and told his story to the jury.  

Critical in proving the self-defense claim, a forensic pathologist was hired by the defense to assist in evaluating the evidence.  Evaluating the autopsy report, photographs and analyzing the trajectories of the bullets when they struck the victim, the defense was successful in illustrating to the jury the exact positioning of the victim when he was shot. Through cross-examination of the state's medical examiner who performed the autopsy, the defense established that, at the moment he was shot, the victim was turned in his seat, facing the defendant, with his arm out and if he were holding a taser and going after the client.

Ultimately, the jury acquitted the defendant of Murder, Felony-Murder, Armed Assault with Intent to Murder, and Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon. He was only convicted of manslaughter and, expectedly as he admitted at trial, possession of a firearm.