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Commonwealth v. Morris (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-125-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     SJC‑11262   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JOSEPH MORRIS.     Suffolk.     March 7, 2013.  ‑  July 11, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon.  Practice, Criminal, Instructions to jury.  Evidence, Flight, Consciousness of guilt, Self‑defense.  Self‑Defense.       Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on August 17, 2006.   The case was tried before Nancy S. Holtz, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     James P. Vander Salm for the defendant. Paul B. Linn, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     SPINA, J.  In the early morning of November 27, 2005, the defendant, Joseph Morris, stabbed Kevin Burns in the chest during a brief altercation on Portland Street in Boston.  A Suffolk County grand jury indicted the defendant on a charge of aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (a knife), in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 15A (c).  Following a jury trial in April, 2010, the defendant was convicted of the lesser included offense of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.  He appealed from his conviction, and we granted his application for direct appellate review.  The defendant contends that the judge should not have given a consciousness of guilt instruction pertaining to flight, over his objection, where he proceeded on a theory of self-defense and claimed that his flight was the result of fear brought on by the circumstances of his situation.  We affirm.   1.  Background.  The jury could have found the following facts.  At approximately 2 A.M. on November 27, 2005, the defendant and his friend, Steven Monge, left Porters Bar and Grill, located near North Station, and began walking down Portland Street in the direction of Monge’s vehicle, which was parked near the corner of Valenti Way.  Around this same time, Ryan Flanagan and Kevin Burns left the Purple Shamrock, a nearby bar and restaurant, and began walking up Portland Street toward North Station to find a taxicab.  As Flanagan walked several yards ahead of Burns, he noticed the defendant and Monge approaching him.  According to Flanagan, the defendant gave him a “dirty look” as they passed each other but kept walking.  Flanagan then heard a commotion behind him, turned around, and saw Burns standing […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm

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