The Supreme Judicial Court today ordered a new trial for Maurice Jones, who was convicted of repeatedly and fatally shooting Dinorris Alston as he sat in with his girlfriend in her car on Dunreath Street on April 17, 2012.
The court ruled that while the evidence against Jones was not the most conclusive it had seen, it was still good enough to warrant conviction in 2015. But the judge in the case committed an unconstitutional mistake by letting a Suffolk County prosecutor have a potential juror who was black dismissed from consideration without proving it was not for racial reasons, the state's highest court ruled.
Jones's lawyer demanded proof the dismissal was not racially biased after the assistant DA used similar "peremptory challenges" against five other potential jurors who were black, but the judge ruled against Jones, saying the jury being assembled already had one black member.
Big mistake, the SJC ruled. That the prosecutor had peremptorily challenged five other prospective jurors who were black was enough of a possible case of discrimination to warrant extra attention to the dismissal of other prospective black jurors if requested by the defense attorney, the court said.
And proving race was not a factor "is not an onerous task," the court continued, noting that one of the other black people considered as a juror was dismissed because English was not his native language and he seemed to have trouble with his English comprehension. In contrast, the justices were unable to see what made the juror who was dismissed in question in the appeal different from people who were empaneled - except for race.
A new trial would be Jones's third for Alston's murder and his girlfriend's shooting. In 2014, a jury deadlocked in the case.
Cambridge Police report they suspect the guy who held up the Emack & Bolio's on White Street on Saturday also robbed the ice-cream place around 2:05 p.m. on May 14 - holding one hand under his shirt as though he had a weapon.
Police say they also think the guy tried to rob a Porter Square grocery store in January, pulling the same hand-under-shirt trick, but that in that case, he fled before getting any money.
If he looks familiar, contact police at 617-349-3300, call the anonymous tip line at 617-349-3359 or send an anonymous tip to 847411 (begin your text with TIP650).
UPDATE: Both woman and violin found, Transit Police report.
Transit Police report that when the owner of a $40,000 violin accidentally left it behind at South Station on June 10, a woman picked up the case and walked out of the station. They've yet to find her or the violin, so have turned to the public for help to reunite the violin with its owner.
If she looks familiar, contact detectives at 617-222-1050 or send an anonymous text to 873873.
Supt. Richard Sullivan reports:
The woman was waiting for a train on the Red Line platform at South Station she put the violin down and when the train pulled in she forgot and boarded the train by the time she realized she was not in possession of the violin and called, it was missing.
An unconscious man lying in a stairwell and an underage college student with fake Colombian IDs could prove the straw that breaks the camel's back for Bijou, 51 Stuart St., which had to make the case to the Boston Licensing Board that its 2 a.m. closing time not be rolled back.
At a hearing this morning, board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini read a list of police citations going back a year, including a March incident involving an underage drinker that led to a one-day suspension, patrons swigging from unsupervised champagne bottles in February that meant a one-day suspension and patrons having drinks poured into their mouths from a bottle in December that led to a four-day suspension of the club's right to offer bottle service.
On May 29, the board heard, a man being escorted out of the club for his part in a shouty pushing match, had to be transported to Tufts Medical Center when he fell 12 to 14 steps in a stairwell after he grabbed onto a hand rail, refused to go any further and three bouncers worked to separate his hands from the hand rail. Police, already on scene investigating a loud "girl fight" outside, found the man lying there, breathing, but unconscious.
Two days later, Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey told the board, he and his partner were on a routine inspection when they found an almost 19-year-old student at Babson who got in with fake Colombian IDs and then used her credit card to buy $103 in vodka drinks for her table.
Mulvey acknowledged he did not spy the woman, whom he initially spotted puffing on an e-cigarette, with a drink in her hand, but that when he ordered her to stand up, she appeared drunk, swaying from side to side. Club attorney Stephen Miller, however, said she appeared sober when she entered and that her swaying may have been because she was trying to hide the e-cigarette between her legs. The woman was charged with various fake-ID charges and with smoking inside a public establishment.
The board decides what to do about both incidents at a meeting on Thursday, after which it will decide whether to roll back Bijou's actions or take other steps to curb problems there.
Miller and owner George Aboujaoude said they have done everything police have asked them to do after problems are uncovered and that they are willing to go even farther, such as through helping to fund new security cameras in the area and increased police details at closing time on weekend nights. The club already helps to pay for one dedicated cruiser in the area then. Aboujaoude said his security staff - as many as 35 people - flood Stuart Street to help get people, including people coming out of other clubs, out of the area, and that they work closely with the security staff at the neighboring Ava building
But Pulgini and District A-1 Sgt. William Gallagher said the club has to get its own house in order as well. Gallagher said that in addition to the detail officers, most of his district is on duty at closing time on Friday and Saturday, which might become an issue should a problem ever erupt elsewhere in the district, such as near North Station.
This is the second time this year the board has considered the possibility of rolling back the hours of Theater District clubs. In May, the Paga clubs on Warrenton Street were given 10 days to come up with a plan to combat underage drinkers, following a hearing similar to today's.
Both Bijou and Paga have filed appeals of most of their licensing-board punishments with the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Hyde Park has a new community group! Keep Hyde Park Beautiful is dedicated to improving the image of Hyde Park. We are affiliated with the national group, Keep America Beautiful that has been around for several decades. There is a community clean up planned for Saturday, June 24 from 10am-1pm along Truman Parkway.
Do you know there are four candidates running for mayor this fall? Would you like to meet them and hear their experience and their position on the issues? Join us on Thursday, July 13, at 6:30 for a meet and greet and they will each speak beginning at 7:00pm. Read more.