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ATMA recent Massachusetts robbery case arose when the defendant was convicted of armed burglary, masked armed robbery, and armed assault in a dwelling. The events giving rise to the case occurred one night when the victims, a couple, woke up to find that there were three masked men standing by their bed, screaming and pointing a gun toward them. A man with a crowbar asked where the money and drugs were. The victims showed the three men their valuables, which included $2,000 in cash, a guitar, and a gaming system. The female victim told the men where her debit card was and gave the man with the crowbar her PIN.

At trial, the defendants argued the evidence was not enough to prove their identity beyond a reasonable doubt. The Commonwealth didn’t have direct eyewitness identification testimony, but it submitted evidence about what the robber with the crowbar was wearing, including a sweatshirt with a Champion logo, and that the skin of his that did show was dark. The surveillance video showed a man with dark skin and a sweatshirt with a Champion logo using the victim’s debit card and PIN to withdraw cash from an ATM near the victim’s house after the robbery. The sweatshirt the defendant wanted to bring after his arrest was also a black Champion sweatshirt.

The female victim found a photograph of a dark-skinned masked man on the defendant’s Facebook page and said that the mask and skin color were almost identical to the robber carrying a crowbar. The defendant was related to the male victim and was familiar with the home.

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car theftIn a recent Massachusetts theft case, the defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and armed robbery while masked. The case arose when the victim of the robbery came to his brother’s convenience store where he worked. He was carrying a bag with $35,000 in cash that was needed to pay lottery winners and address other store business. He believed a customer was coming in behind him, but it turned out to be a robber wearing black clothes, a mask, and gloves. The robber demanded the bag.

The victim tried to avoid giving it to the robber by throwing it on the store counter. The robber hit him with a crowbar, grabbed the bag, and ran away. The victim called 911. The police came to the scene and looked at the surveillance video recording. They called the detective unit and canine unit to track the robber. A trooper came with a canine that tracked the scene for a mile. The dog stopped at the door of a building. The trooper believed this meant that there was something behind the building door. He and other police officers arrested the defendant in a basement apartment at the building.

Another detective reported to the scene and was given a description of the suspect as being light-skinned and black-haired and wearing a heavy brown jacket with a hoodie and a woolen cap. The detective rode around searching for the suspect. Another detective told him to go to the street where the building was. The defendant was on the street walking his dog, and he went into the address where the canine had signaled. The police entered and found multiple people, including the defendant. The defendant was the only person who matched the description.

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prison cellIn a recent Massachusetts assault case, the defendant pled guilty to assault and battery on a girlfriend and her child. A judge sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction, but he only had to serve six months with the balance suspended for three years. He was sentenced to three years of probation on the second charge.

He moved to revise and revoke the sentence. He asked if he could serve the sentence on weekends. The sentence was stayed until 2015, and on that date, the judge allowed the motion. The Commonwealth appealed, arguing the judge had made a mistake in granting the defendant’s motion. It argued the defendant didn’t meet the criteria provided under M.G.L. c. 279 section 6A that would allow him to serve a special weekend sentence.

After the appeal was entered, the judge held a hearing on the sheriff department’s petition to modify after the appeal was entered. The sheriff argued that the defendant should not be eligible due to his priors, having been imprisoned on prior convictions. The judge reduced the committed part of the defendant’s sentence to time served.

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roachIn a recent Massachusetts case, the court considered whether field sobriety tests were admissible in situations in which the police believe a driver may have been driving under the influence of marijuana.

The case arose in 2013, when the police watched a blue motor vehicle traveling south on Route 146 without its rear lights on. The police followed the car and activated their lights. The officer approached on the passenger side. There were three people inside:  the driver and two passengers. Smoke was in the car, and the officer smelled burnt marijuana when the window was rolled down. The officer also saw cigar tobacco on the floor and a cigar slicer on the key ring of the key that was in the ignition. The officer asked the driver for his license and registration.

The driver gave the officer his license but said he didn’t have his registration. The officer asked him how much pot he had in the car, and the driver answered there were roaches in the ashtray. Two mostly consumed rolled cigarettes were taken out of the ashtray and provided to the officer, who asked when they smoked pot. A passenger replied they’d smoked 20 minutes earlier, but the driver answered it had been three hours earlier.

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stairsIn a recent Massachusetts aggravated assault case, the defendant was convicted of assault and battery by a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and threatening. The case arose from the defendant allegedly kicking the victim multiple times with a closed-toe shoe while the victim was trying to go down a flight of stairs to get away from her. The kicks were such that the victim needed help from her boyfriend to avoid falling down.

Among other things, the defendant claimed that “dangerous weapon” as described in M.G. L. c. 265, § 15A(b) was unconstitutionally vague. A law is considered unconstitutionally vague if people with ordinary intelligence have to guess at what it means. When a law has been clarified by a court’s explanation, it withstands such a challenge. “Dangerous weapon” has a meaning that’s regularly applied, and dangerous weapons include objects designed and constructed to cause death or catastrophic injuries, as well as objects that aren’t dangerous per se but become dangerous based on how they’re used. Whether a weapon is dangerous within the law’s meaning is a question for the jury or fact-finding judge.

The appellate court reasoned that someone of usual intelligence would realize that using closed-toed shoes to kick someone multiple times as they went down the stairs was prohibited by the statute. It found no error on this point.

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emergency lightIn a recent Massachusetts theft decision, the court considered a motion to suppress. The case arose when a sergeant of the police department joined other officers in surveilling a car that was the subject of an investigation related to multiple breaking and entering crimes. The police department of another neighboring town had asked for assistance to see whether the car would lead the cops to evidence related to the breaking and entering crimes.

The police cars were unmarked and changed places to avoid being detected in the relevant communities. One officer saw the car at issue go down a dead-end road and make a U-turn before going in the original direction. He followed, and the car got onto Route 9, going west. There were two men in the car, and the officer believed the driver was the defendant, whom he’d known in high school.

Earlier that day, a sergeant looked up the defendant’s license and found it to be suspended. He called another police department, and the information was confirmed. The sergeant pulled up next to the car and recognized the defendant. He was worried he’d lose the car and told a detective he’d asked to assist that he would stop the defendant. He stopped the defendant’s car and pulled him out. The other police officers arrived 3-5 minutes later.

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gas stationIn a recent Massachusetts armed robbery case, a defendant appealed his conviction for armed robbery while masked. The case arose from an armed robbery of a gas station. The defendant, a regular customer, came in at 9 p.m. and bought $10 worth of gas. He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Ten minutes later, a man came into the store in jeans, a sweatshirt, and a facemask. Later, the second man was revealed to be same as the first — the defendant.

The defendant pointed a gun at one of the gas station attendants and told him to get money. He also pointed the gun at the other attendant and told him to get money. He told the first attendant to walk around the counter and stand by the other one. The second attendant opened the register and handed him the cash from inside it. The first attendant recognized the voice of the defendant and identified him to police later.

The robbery was recorded by surveillance cameras. The jury was shown a video recording of what happened, including the part in which the defendant bought gas just before the robbery. The defendant and the robber were wearing the same jeans and shoes, and they had the same height and weight.

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showerIn a recent Massachusetts criminal case, a defendant appealed after being convicted of rape, assault, and battery with a dangerous weapon. The case arose when the defendant started dating the victim, and the victim moved into his apartment, where he lived with a male roommate. Soon afterward, the defendant and the victim started arguing, and these arguments turned into physical fights. The victim would later testify that the defendant physically abused her each week within months of her moving in.

After one argument, the roommate asked the defendant and the victim to leave. When they left, they went to the victim’s car outside the building. Inside the car, the defendant strangled and hit her. The police came, and the assault stopped. The victim would later testify she didn’t tell the cops what happened because the defendant made her feel guilty for getting him in trouble. There was no arrest. Shortly after that, the victim saw the defendant texting another woman. She told him the relationship was over and locked herself in the bathroom and got in the shower. The defendant broke in with a knife. He took off his clothes and got in the shower and smashed her head against the shower wall three times.

The police responded to a domestic violence report. The officer saw the victim crying in the bathroom. There were unattached pieces of hair on her shoulder. He arrested the defendant.

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pillsIn a 2017 Massachusetts appellate case, the defendant appealed from convictions for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs (M.G. L. c. 90, § 24(1)(a)(1)) and negligent operation of a motor vehicle (M.G. L. c. 90, § 24(2)(a)). The case arose when a cop in an unmarked car saw the defendant drift over the centerline and travel toward him head-on. The cop swerved to avoid crashing into the defendant, and then he pulled her over.

The cop, who’d known her for a minimum of 23 years, observed she “wasn’t right” but was sleepy, lethargic, and disheveled with a low attention span and a physical unsteadiness. A different cop grabbed her hand to stop her from falling while she was performing the nine-step walk and turn test and the one-leg stand.

The defendant said she’d taken Sertraline, Symbicort, Albuterol, Spiriva, Singulair, Prozac, Dextral, and Paxil on that day. The officer asked to see her prescriptions, and she only produced Lorazepam and Oxycodone prescription bottles. The Oxycodone bottle included only a single pill, even though the prescription was for 75 pills and had been refilled three days before. The defendant had a redness around her nose, and it was visible in her booking photograph.

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gunIn a recent Massachusetts appellate case, the court considered whether the district court judge had made a mistake in denying a criminal defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress evidence that was found just before a pat frisk.

The firearm that was seized was discovered when the defendant and his companions were stopped by cops to investigate a report that shots had been fired. A cop had moved toward the defendant when the defendant was trying to avoid a pat frisk. The cop had only a general description of possible shooters. There was nothing linking the defendant and those with him to the crime scene or the group that a witness saw entering a courtyard.

The defendant moved to suppress the evidence (the firearm), claiming that the cops didn’t have a reasonable suspicion for the stop. The motion judge denied the motion, and the defendant was convicted. He appealed from his convictions, arguing that the police didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to stop him, so it was a mistake to deny the motion to suppress.

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