The Supreme Judicial Court today ruled today two men get to spend the rest of their lives in prison for murdering Alfonso Rivas in a Codman Square apartment in 2012.
A Suffolk Superior Court jury had convicted Oasis Pritchett and Reginald Holley on first-degree "felony murder" charges, in which both were convicted without prosecutors having to show which one actually fired the single, fatal shot into Rivas's head. Rivas had agreed to let the two into the apartment after arranging to sell them some high-quality marijuana, prosecutors say.
Pritchett's lawyer argued a felony-murder conviction requires the victim to have died during the course of the alleged crime, which he asserted didn't happen in this case because Rivas held on for three hours and actually died in a hospital.
The court rejected that argument, citing similar rulings in earlier cases that prosecutors only had to show that the death flowed from the original crime, which in this case was the armed robbery:
Here, it was sufficient that the fatal shot was delivered during the course of the armed robbery; that the victim died a few hours later does not negate the fact that the victim was killed in the course of the armed robbery.
The court also rejected other arguments by Pritchett's and Holley's attorneys that they should have been tried separately - because each could blame the other for the murder - and that police did not have sufficient probable cause to obtain cell-phone text messages that incriminated the two both before and after the murder, including a text conversation in which Pritchett texted a girlfriend to explain he had "fucked up" and when she asked "so whos prego," he had to explain that, no, it was something far worse.