Occasionally, an individual facing criminal charges in Worcester or elsewhere in Massachusetts is accused of crimes involving separate incidents. Thus, the accused person often needs a criminal defense for multiple criminal proceedings, and even though the allegations involve separate and distinct acts, each matter may have an impact on the manner in which another is handled.
Last November, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed in front of City Hall. Two city residents, ages 20 and 22, were arrested and subsequently charged with murder and firearms allegations. Formally indicted on March 28, their criminal cases were transferred to Worcester Superior Court and arraignment was set for April 24.
Prosecutors have alleged that the murder followed an altercation between members of rival gangs in a nearby alleyway. Since their arrest, they were being held without bail. Both men were also facing drug charges stemming from an incident on April 20 of last year, more than seven months before the murder. Both were accused of cocaine distribution and conspiracy to violate the drug laws, among other offenses. The allegations stem from a purported sale of $80 worth of crack cocaine to an undercover officer near a park or school, after police apparently arranged the transaction.
On April 13, the 22-year-old accepted a plea arrangement whereby he pleaded guilty to the pending drug charges and received a sentence of 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 years in state prison. The judge accepted the recommendation of the prosecutor in handing down the prison sentence. It was noted that this conviction was for a second or subsequent offense. The 20-year-old murder suspect also pleaded guilty earlier to drug crimes based on the same undercover sale and was sentenced to three years behind bars.
It is not known if the Massachusetts murder charges pending against each individual played a role in how the drug charges were handled or if they affected the prosecutor's recommendation concerning the prison sentences given. Nevertheless, the attention of each young man will now necessarily turn to the murder charges, as they seek to formulate a meaningful criminal defense that could spell the difference between eventual freedom and a lifetime in prison. They will each have the opportunity to challenge evidence presented against them as well as to confront witnesses in court who testify for the prosecution.
Source: Worcester Telegram and Gazette, "Slaying suspect gets drug term," Gary V. Murray, April 14, 2012