For the second time this week, the jury in the Mattapan massacre trial has restarted its deliberations, this time after a juror was excused to tend to a gravely ill brother in Georgia.
“This is challenging. You have had a full week of deliberations and I am asking you to do it again, which is frustrating,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke told the panel today.
On Monday, Locke had dismissed another man from the jury because he had done ballistics research on the Internet. Jurors are only supposed to consider the evidence presented at the trial. Each time a juror is dismissed and replaced by an alternate, the jury has to begin deliberations anew.
The defendant, Dwayne Moore, 35, is facing four counts of murder for allegedly gunning down four people, including a mother and her 2-year-old child, on Sept. 28, 2010.
This trial is Moore’s second. A previous trial ended in March with the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of convicting him. A co-defendant was acquitted. The jury in that case deliberated for seven days.
As Locke spoke today, the jurors bore sullen expressions. Most slumped in their seats, in contrast to their usual early morning perkiness.
The jurors were selected from a pool of Worcester County residents at the request of Moore’s defense attorney, John Amabile. Amabile successfully argued that the publicity following the slayings and the first trial would prevent his client from getting an impartial jury in Suffolk County.
The 16 jurors who heard the case have seemed snake-bitten from the start.
On Nov. 19, a juror suffering from an allergy-related gastrointestinal condition asked to be excused and Locke granted his request. After closing arguments on Dec. 5, the court selected a six-man, six-woman jury to deliberate, and designated three alternates, two men and a woman.
On Monday, the jury revealed the now-dismissed juror’s ballistics research to Locke. Locke sternly criticized the juror’s breach. An alternate was selected to replace the dismissed juror. Locke instructed the reconstituted jury to start deliberating anew, voiding about 2½ days of deliberations.
Then on Wednesday night, the juror with the ill brother contacted court officials in Worcester and told them he would be unable to continue focusing on deliberations because his brother had suddenly developed an aneurysm and was in a medically induced coma.
The Worcester officials contacted Locke Wednesday night and informed him of the developments.
Locke said today that it became clear during the conversation that the juror would be too distracted to continue. This morning, as they have since the trial started, jurors boarded a bus in Worcester for the approximately hourlong State Police-escorted ride to Boston — but with one less juror on board.
Locke later told the jury that the absent juror was on his way to Georgia to be at his brother’s bedside.
Suffolk Assistant Clerk Magistrate Margaret Sanel today cranked the handle on a small wooden barrel containing the assigned numbers of the alternates, and, after several revolutions of the barrel, she pulled out the number 7, assigned to a middle-aged woman.
Locke instructed the reconstituted jury, now containing 10 jurors who have deliberated on-and-off since Dec. 5, to once again start deliberating from the beginning. Only one alternate remains, a man. The alternates do not sit in on deliberations, so the latest person to join the talks has not discussed the case or been exposed to any evidence since Dec. 5.
Moore is charged with killing Simba Martin, 21; Martin’s girlfriend, Eyanna Flonory; her son, Amanihotep Smith; and Martin’s friend, Levaughn Washum-Garrison, who had slept on a couch at Martin’s Sutton Street house that night. A fifth man, Marcus Hurd, who came to the house that night to buy marijuana from Martin, was shot in the back of the head but survived. Hurd was left paralyzed.
Prosecutors say the slayings cam after Moore and others carried out a drug-related robbery of Martin.Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @globeballou