In the recent case of Commonwealth v. Jenkins, the defendant was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault and battery on a pregnant woman. The case arose when the pregnant victim confronted the defendant, who was her boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, about his possible infidelity. During the argument, she ran outside in fear, letting the door close behind her, but she came back in because she was underdressed for the cold weather. The defendant let her come back inside when she said she wanted to get her stuff.
The defendant was on the phone at the time, but he told her she was dead. He grabbed her by the neck and pushed her into the wall and then to the ground, making it so she couldn’t breathe. He struck her and kicked her all over with his boots, claiming he would “stomp” out the child. She passed out. He told her to look up abortion providers and call to make an appointment.
When he walked out of the room for a moment, she grabbed her keys and ran out the door. He chased her outside and kept beating her until she honked the car horn for long enough that he went back inside. The victim called 911. An ambulance took her to the hospital, and she later went to the police station. Photos were taken of her bruises and injuries.
The defendant was charged with several crimes, including attempted murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (the foot with a boot), and assault and battery on a pregnant woman. During closing arguments, the defense attorney accused the victim of lying as revenge for the defendant’s infidelity. He noted inconsistencies in her statements and the lack of bruising in the photographs from the evening. He also noted the offensive way in which the victim had referred to the woman with whom the defendant was having an affair.
The prosecution noted that life experience would be relevant to knowing whether someone would make up a story about being beaten up. He also commented on how the defendant had pushed on her neck, and that this is a particularly vulnerable region. He also noted that the defendant had threatened to stomp the baby out of her. The defense attorney did not object to these particular remarks. The defendant was convicted and appealed.
The defendant argued that the prosecution had appealed to the jurors’ sympathy for the victim instead of asking them to judge her credibility by commenting on the defense attorney’s sneering and disdain. The defense argued that this counted as disparaging opposing counsel, which is not permitted during arguments. The appellate court disagreed noting that the prosecution had specifically reminded the jury to use common sense, life experience, and fairness in evaluating the victim’s credibility.
The defendant also argued that the prosecution should not have made a biblical reference in saying that the victim should not be seen badly for referring to the other woman as “the bitch from the homeless shelter.” The appellate court agreed that the prosecution should not have attempted to link Christian morals to the juror’s evaluation of credibility, nor asked the jurors to imagine themselves in the victim’s place.
The appellate court noted that the defendant didn’t object to these objectionable remarks at the time and that on balance, the prosecutor’s argument hadn’t created a substantial risk that there would be a miscarriage of justice. Moreover, the jurors acquitted the defendant of the serious charge of attempted murder. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.
If you are arrested for assault and battery, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss your Massachusetts criminal charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or contact us through this website.
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