Posts tagged "1004817"

Commonwealth v. Dragotta (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-048-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030;   SJC-12186   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  HEATHER DRAGOTTA.       Essex.     December 6, 2016. – March 21, 2017.   Present (Sitting at Lawrence):  Gants, C.J., Botsford, Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.[1]     Assault and Battery.  Wanton or Reckless Conduct.  Child Abuse.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on October 1, 2010.   The cases were heard by Richard E. Welch, III, J.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Patrick Levin, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the defendant. Marcia H. Slingerland, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     BUDD, J.  After a jury-waived trial, Heather Dragotta was convicted on one indictment charging her with wantonly or recklessly permitting another person to commit an assault and battery that resulted in bodily injury to her infant daughter (victim).[2]  G. L. c. 265, § 13J.  The injury, an interhemispheric subdural hematoma, that is, bleeding between the hemispheres of the victim’s brain, was recklessly inflicted by Dragotta’s boy friend, Steven Amos, after Dragotta left the victim in his sole care while she took a shower.[3]  The Appeals Court affirmed Dragotta’s conviction, and we granted her application for further appellate review.  Commonwealth v. Dragotta, 89 Mass. App. Ct. 119, S.C., 475 Mass. 1102 (2016).  Because we conclude that the evidence was insufficient to establish that her conduct was wanton or reckless, we reverse the conviction. Background.  Much of the evidence presented at trial was directed to explaining the victim’s injuries and their cause.  Now, however, we are primarily concerned with Dragotta’s state of mind when she left the victim in Amos’s care to take a shower.  Viewing the evidence at trial in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, see Commonwealth v. Latimore, 378 Mass. 671, 676-677 (1979), the trial judge, as fact finder, reasonably could have found the following facts. The victim, who was Dragotta’s first child, was born on April 27, 2010.  Amos was not the victim’s father, but he participated actively in her care and acted as her father in all respects.[4]  After the birth, Dragotta and Amos temporarily stayed with Dragotta’s parents in Weare, New Hampshire, so that the victim’s grandmother could help with the baby.  Also living in the Weare house were Dragotta’s brother and his girl friend, as well […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 21, 2017 at 8:49 pm

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