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Commonwealth v. Brown (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-151-17)

NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11669   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  TIMOTHY BROWN.       Middlesex.     March 10, 2017. – September 20, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.[1]     Homicide.  Felony-Murder Rule.  Home Invasion.  Robbery.  Firearms.  Joint Enterprise.  Accessory and Principal.  Practice, Criminal, Capital case, Instructions to jury, Argument by prosecutor, Opening statement, Jury and jurors, Voir dire, Presumptions and burden of proof.  Evidence, Joint venturer, Prior misconduct.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on December 22, 2009.   The cases were tried before Sandra L. Hamlin, J.     David H. Mirsky for the defendant. Melissa Weisgold Johnsen, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     GAZIANO, J.  We address, in this opinion, the scope of criminal liability under the common-law felony-murder rule.  The charges stem from an attempted armed robbery and home invasion into a Lowell townhouse shared by Hector and Tony Delgado.  Two armed gunmen fatally shot the brothers during the botched robbery.  The defendant was not present at the scene.  The Commonwealth alleged that the defendant was liable as an accomplice to felony-murder because he supplied one of the gunmen with a pistol and provided hooded sweatshirts to the intruders to help them conceal their identities.  A Superior Court jury convicted the defendant of two counts of felony-murder in the first degree based on the predicate felonies of an attempted commission of armed robbery, home invasion, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. The defendant raises the following claims on appeal:  (1) the Commonwealth failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove that he was a knowing participant in the felony-murders; (2) the judge provided erroneous instructions on shared intent and accomplice liability; (3) portions of the prosecutor’s opening statement and closing argument were improper; (4) the judge should have excluded prejudicial evidence of prior misconduct; (5) the judge asked improper voir dire questions of potential jurors; and (6) we should abolish the felony-murder rule.  The defendant also asks us to order a new trial under our extraordinary authority pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 33E. We conclude that the Commonwealth introduced sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant knowingly participated in the underlying felonies and, therefore, was an accomplice to felony-murder.  We conclude also that the defendant’s other challenges do not raise error warranting reversal or a new […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 20, 2017 at 3:11 pm

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