BROCKTON—A man charged with committing a murder here Tuesday afternoon would have been behind bars, but he was free because his drug dealing conviction had been tossed out after it was discovered that disgraced state chemist Annie Dookhan handled the evidence and testified at his trial, officials said today.
Donta Hood, 22, of Brockton, appeared today in Brockton District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to charges he fatally shot 45-year-old Charles Evans on Belmont Street Tuesday in one of six homicides the city has suffered so far this year. In 2012, a total of six people were murdered during the entire year.
At Hood’s arraignment today, Plymouth Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Kenny disclosed the connection between Hood and Dookhan, who worked for a now closed Department of Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain, where she allegedly mixed drug samples, falsified results, and perjured herself on the witness stand by claiming to have a master’s degree when she did not.
The Committee for Public Counsel Services and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts have asked the state’s highest court to consider dismissing hundreds of thousands of drug convictions if there is any connection to Dookhan or the lab.
Kenny said in court that Hood was given a five-year sentence for drug dealing, but when the connection with the Dookhan case surfaced, his attorneys moved for a new trial. The drug evidence had been destroyed, Kenny said, leaving prosecutors unable to fight the request. The charges against Hood were dropped on Nov. 14.
According to Kenny, Hood shot and killed Evans after the two men met and argued over drug and gun transactions. Hood arrived at Belmont Street with friends and Evans was accompanied by at least two allies, Kenny said.
The groups began a discussion, which suddenly broke into an argument. Kenny alleged Hood grabbed a handgun from a colleague and shot Evans, who managed to stagger for a short distance before collapsing. Despite rescue efforts by friends and authorities, Evans later died at a Brockton hospital.
Brockton police and State Police are increasing patrols in the city because of the high number of homicides so far this year.
The first homicide of 2013 occurred on Jan. 30, near 12 Auburn St., just south of the downtown area. That victim, Joshua LeClair, 21, died six days later.
On March 6, Eric Dillard, 32, was fatally shot inside 419 Montello St., also just south of downtown.
On April 22, Vardly St. Felix, 23, was fatally shot and another man wounded in a daytime shooting near the Angelo Elementary School, just north of the downtown area.
On May 4, Jonathan Semedo, 18, of Taunton, was fatally stabbed near 517 Summer St., southeast of downtown.
And on May 8, Nicholas Grimes, 56, was fatally beaten at the Elmcourt Hotel, located downtown.Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou. John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.