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Commonwealth v. Sullivan (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-139-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11504 COMMONWEALTH  vs.  MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN. Middlesex.     April 10, 2014. – August 15, 2014.   Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Gants, & Duffly, JJ.[1] Homicide.  Practice, Criminal, Capital case, New trial. Evidence, Scientific test, Exculpatory.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on April 24, 1986, and May 14, 1986, respectively.   A motion for a new trial, filed on March 9, 2012, was heard by Kathe M. Tuttman, J.   A request for leave to appeal was allowed by Spina, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk.     Robert J. Bender, Assistant District Attorney (Steven C. Hoctor, Assistant District Attorney, with him) for the Commonwealth. Dana Alan Curhan for the defendant.     SPINA, J.  The defendant, Michael J. Sullivan, was convicted by a jury in Superior Court of murder in the first degree and armed robbery arising out of the brutal stomping death of Wilfred McGrath.  We affirmed the defendant’s convictions on direct appeal.  Commonwealth v. Sullivan, 410 Mass. 521, 533 (1991).  Since then, the defendant has sought postconviction relief both in State and Federal courts.[2]  At issue in this case is the defendant’s most recent motion for a new trial.  As a result of the reexamination by a private forensic laboratory of certain physical evidence from the defendant’s trial, which revealed that the victim’s blood was not present on a jacket purportedly worn by the defendant during the killing, the defendant filed a motion for a new trial based on newly available evidence.  The motion judge[3] granted the defendant’s motion, and the Commonwealth sought leave to appeal from a single justice of this court.  The Commonwealth’s application was granted, and the Commonwealth argues on appeal that the motion judge erred in concluding that the jacket was a key piece of corroborative evidence in the case against the defendant and that the newly available evidence arising from the retesting of the jacket casts real doubt on the justice of the defendant’s conviction.  We agree with the motion judge, and we affirm the order granting the defendant’s motion for a new trial. 1.  Facts.  The facts surrounding the killing of the victim are set forth in detail in Sullivan, 410 Mass. at 522-523.  We summarize those facts here and supplement them with other relevant facts from the trial record and […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm

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