Court rules Dorchester man may have been so drunk the night he murdered his girlfriend he doesn't deserve a sentence of life without parole

The Supreme Judicial Court today gave Suffolk County prosecutors a choice: They can retry Mario Gonzalez of Dorchester for stabbing his girlfriend to death in 2009 or they can accept reducing his current conviction from first to second-degree murder.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole. A second-degree conviction also carries a life sentence but with the possibility of parole, as early as 15 years after conviction.

At issue is the legal theory under which prosecutors charged Gonzalez with first-degree murder and the judge's instructions to his jury.

Prosecutors did not allege that Gonzalez planned Luz Forty's murder on Feb. 15, 2009. Instead, they said he deserved to be sent away for life because of the "extreme atrocity or cruelty" in the way he killed her during an argument over his drinking - he stabbed her eight times in the chest and shoulders.

The problem, the state's highest court ruled, was that:

The judge did not instruct the jury that they could consider any credible evidence of the defendant's consumption of alcohol in determining whether the defendant committed the killing with extreme atrocity or cruelty, an instruction that in substance is required where there is evidence that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the killing. ...

Where the only theory of murder in the first degree on which the jury found the defendant guilty was extreme atrocity or cruelty, the defendant on appeal argues that the absence of such an instruction was error that created a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice.

The absence of such an instruction was error. ...

Where the jury did not find the defendant guilty on the theory of deliberate premeditation, where the defendant was the first to telephone 911 after the stabbing, and where there was no evidence of a history of domestic abuse, we cannot say that "we are substantially confident that, if the error had not been made, the jury verdict would have been the same."

The court concluded:

Within fourteen days of the issuance of this opinion, the Commonwealth shall inform this court whether it will move to have the defendant sentenced on the lesser offense of murder in the second degree or whether it will retry the defendant for murder in the first degree.



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so if i hit someone with my

By on

so if i hit someone with my car while drunk im more guilty but if i stab someone im less guilty....noted

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By on

There are two ways you can be convicted of first-degree murder. One is premeditation - you carefully planned out somebody's murder. The other is extreme atrocity - you might not have thought it out, but you were just so incredibly brutal about it.

The court basically said the guy's a murderer (he claimed four other reasons his verdict should be overturned - the court rejected them all), it's just a question of whether he deserved life without parole.

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If the sentence for first degree murder

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is life without parole, and he was convicted of first degree murder, then by definition he deserves life without parole.

Assuming that the defendant's excessive alcohol use came up during the trial, unless the judge specifically instructed the jury that they couldn't consider the issue during deliberations, the argument regarding the jury instructions is a bogus one and the SJC (once again) made a lousy decision.

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Sure thing

Because this guy is staying in prison for good because the woman's life has value, rather than being released by judges appointed by a political party whose leaders think that rape is just a man wanting sex, and murder of an uppity woman is simply a man's right in this world.

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Show me the direct evidence

Show me the direct evidence of any political party leaders who specifically state these claims that dismiss rape in this reactionary manner. Specifically this exact literal language.

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They wouldn't dare in MA

Although that didn't keep one dude from introducing legislation that would forbid a woman with children from having a boyfriend if she was in the midst of a divorce.

Here is a nice rundown of the general GOP attitude toward women's bodies, rape, and domestic violence:

Here is an especially good one from that veteran hating buffoon Chambliss:

Oh, and Eric Cantor has had his say:

Look up the GOP fight against the Violence Against Women Act for more clear signals from the GOP that it's okay to rape and murder women.

Voting is closed. 9

But....but....but...what kind

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But....but....but...what kind of lawyers are writing the language in these "for the bad guys" laws? We need more conservative judges.

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What on earth

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What law are you reading? And lawyers write the laws, yes, we call them, and the other assorted professions that make the laws the "Legislature". You should look it up. But please stay home when it's time to vote.

Voting is closed. 7

RIP Ms Forty

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being wreckless(as I have often been while inebriated)isn't the same as an atrocity/cruelty. He didn't slap her around, he stabbed HER(someone he claimed to and probably loved/s) about the chest and shoulders during an argument. He may not deserve to never have a chance at parole but deserves to spend a decade or 2 in a cage before the even consider it.

Voting is closed. 9

I was on the jury for this

I was on the jury for this trial. We heard testimony that the defendant and victim were drinking at Dublin House to celebrate Valentine's day, and we were pretty sure he was hammered, they had car service home.

No defense of blacking out or amnesia from drinking was offered.

I asked Judge Hines after she released us why the prosecution went for murder one instead of two and she pointed out they felt they had an airtight case (c'mon the defendant was actually arguing self defense!) and wanted to remove the possibility of parole.

It was a pretty heinous crime, and I doubt any technical instructions would have changed our verdict which took only about three hours.

If anything the defense dropped the ball, perhaps by not stressing the blackout defense, but in retrospect this was probably on purpose as they seemed like they were just heading for appeal the whole way.

Very disappointing decision, in my opinion. Why bother with a trial by jury if sentencing is going to be finalized by the SJC?

Voting is closed. 5