A man convicted of first-degree murder for the death of a rival gang member on Burrell Street in Roxbury on Feb. 23, 2011 got a fair trial and will spend the rest of his life in prison without chance of parole, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled today.
Lawyers for Jason Barbosa argued, in part, that his conviction should be overturned because prosecutors provided evidence that supported two seemingly incompatible theories - that Barbosa was the actual shooter, rather than another man who drove him away from the scene - and that Barbosa was a "joint venturer" - somebody who was actively involved in planning the murder but may not have pulled the trigger. In Massachusetts, somebody accused of actively helping to plan a murder can be found guilty of murder.
The state's highest court ruled it didn't matter because prosecutors presented strong enough evidence to convince the jury that, one way or another, Barbosa had something to do with Depina's death.
The justices pointed to the ongoing feud between the two men's gangs in general and Barbosa's hostility against Depina in particular - including on the night of the murder, when Barbosa spotted him outside a Burrell Street bar and threatened him, then returned later. Also incriminating: GPS bracelet Barbosa was wearing that tied him to the murder scene.
Barbosa had a long record and himself survived three shootings, including one in the 2007 shootout that killed visiting Kentucky college student Chiara Levin.