Posts tagged "1015214"

Commonwealth v. Thomas (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-152-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-10826   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  CHITEARA M. THOMAS. Plymouth.     February 7, 2014. – September 2, 2014.   Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.[1]     Homicide.  Burning a Dwelling House.  Attempt.  Constitutional Law, Assistance of counsel, Admissions and confessions, Voluntariness of statement, Harmless error, Self-incrimination.  Due Process of Law, Assistance of counsel.  Evidence, Admissions and confessions, Voluntariness of statement.  Error, Harmless.  Practice, Criminal, Capital case, Motion to suppress, Assistance of counsel, Admissions and confessions, Voluntariness of statement, Harmless error.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on September 22, 2006.   A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Charles J. Hely, J., and the cases were tried before Thomas A. Connors, J.   William S. Smith for the defendant. Mary E. Lee, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     GANTS, J.  In the early morning of July 6, 2006, the defendant, Chiteara M. Thomas, used a cigarette lighter to set fire to a curtain in the first-floor apartment of a three-story house in Brockton (house).  The fire quickly spread from the first floor to the upstairs apartments.  Olinda Calderon, a resident in the third-floor apartment, died in the fire, and several residents and guests in the second- and third-floor apartments were injured.  A Superior Court jury convicted the defendant of murder in the first degree on the theory of deliberate premeditation, arson of a dwelling house, and the attempted murder of thirteen persons.      On appeal, the defendant contends that the judge erred in denying, except in small part, her motion to suppress the statements she made to police on July 6 and 7, 2006,[2] and that a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice arose from the admission in evidence of the defendant’s invocation of her right to counsel at the commencement of her July 6 interview.  We conclude that the judge erred in denying the motion to suppress the July 6 interview and that part of the July 7 interview that preceded the defendant’s booking, but correctly denied the motion with respect to the defendant’s postbooking confession.  We also conclude that the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to the convictions of murder in the first degree and attempted murder, but was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to the conviction of arson […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 2, 2014 at 2:26 pm

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