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Mattapan massacre trial starting

Lone survivor expected to take stand

By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / February 13, 2012
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No one should have survived. The shooters fired deliberately then fled, leaving all five victims, including a 2-year-old boy, to die on a Mattapan street.

But one victim lived.

Marcus Hurd, 32, a handyman who had gone to the neighborhood that night to buy marijuana, was shot in the back of the head. For nearly six months, he lay in a hospital bed, guarded by police officers 24 hours a day. Three times doctors and nurses had to revive him.

“He’s strong,’’ his mother said last week. “He’s a blessed man.’’

The trial of the two men accused in the September 2010 shootings - a cold execution that outraged the city and shocked even a community accustomed to violence - is scheduled to begin today.

Hurd is expected to testify.

“He’s got to do what he’s got to do,’’ said his mother, who asked that her name be withheld. “It’s going to be rough.’’

Aside from reigniting the anger and pain of the victims’ families, the trial will probably underscore some of the longstanding challenges prosecutors face in cases like these: frightened witnesses, an apparent lack of strong physical evidence, and potentially crucial testimony from a career criminal who has agreed to a plea deal and whose credibility will no doubt be attacked by the defense. The defendants, Dwayne Moore and Edward Washington, have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say the men came looking for cash and drugs at the Sutton Street home of a drug dealer but ended up shooting everyone there, even Amanihotep Smith, 2, who was found cradled in the arms of his mother, Eyanna Flonory, 21, who also was shot and killed.

Hurd is now a quadriplegic, able to move only his head and enough of his arms so that he can operate the knob of his mechanized wheelchair, according to court records. He did not respond to a request for an interview made through his mother. For nearly a year, he has been sequestered in an apartment far from Boston and from his family, through the state’s witness protection program. His mother, who still fears for her family’s safety, said Hurd’s condition has left him despondent. At 6 feet 2, Hurd was once athletic and lean, a basketball player who lifted weights.

The shooters “didn’t take him away,’’ his mother said. “But with his being depressed, it can eat you away, too.’’

Washington and Moore are accused of committing armed robbery at 23 Sutton St. in Mattapan, the home of Simba Martin, 21.

Kimani Washington, Edward Washington’s cousin, told police he went with the two men that night to commit the robbery, and that he had forced Martin and Hurd to undress - police found them naked. But he said that he left the scene, taking Hurd’s rented sport utility vehicle, before the shooting happened.

At some time later, Washington has said, Moore allegedly told him he shot the mother and child, as well as Hurd, Martin, and Levaughn Washum-Garrison, 22, of Roslindale, who also was at the house.

It is unclear what Hurd will recollect on the stand.

His mother said he has told her little about what happened that night. He spends most of his days in physical therapy, hoping to regain some mobility. She said doctors do not believe he will ever walk again, but she refuses to give up hope.

“God has the last’’ word, she said.

Relatives and friends of the victims, who have packed the courtrooms during the defendants’ arraignments, have said they want to represent their loved ones with their presence during the trial in Suffolk Superior Court.

“I think that’s the best I can do,’’ said Patricia Washum-Bennett, the mother of Washum-Garrison. “I definitely want to be there front and center until it’s over.’’

John Amabile, a veteran criminal defense attorney representing Moore, said he is concerned that the brutality of the crime will affect the jury’s ability to look at the evidence objectively.

“I’m very worried that a jury is [not] going to be able to get past the tragic circumstances and focus on the law and the facts,’’ Amabile said.

Kimani Washington is expected to testify against his cousin and Moore, according to court records.

In exchange, prosecutors have agreed not to pursue murder charges against Kimani Washington, who intends to plead guilty next month to armed robbery, according to several people with knowledge of the agreement.

Defense attorneys will undoubtedly try to undermine the testimony of Kimani Washington. Police reported finding one of the guns used and a locked safe containing marijuana, cash, and masks that belonged to Martin at his mother’s home, where he sometimes stayed.

Another witness could also cause trouble for the prosecution. Last week, defense lawyers questioned a man who had told police days after the shooting that the real killer was a dreadlocked drug dealer named “Dre.’’ The lawyers asked Superior Court judge Christine McEvoy to dismiss the murder indictments because police had not provided the witness’s identity until a few weeks before the trial. McEvoy has not made a ruling on that motion, but she ruled last week that the witness, Jarrid Reese, has a constitutional right not to testify in the case.

However, defense attorneys could still try to bring up Reese’s interview during the trial.

Prosecutors have not detailed any forensic evidence tying Moore or Edward Washington to the crime scene, but they have said there are phone records showing that Moore, who once lived at Martin’s home, called his old housemate shortly before the shootings.

A spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley declined to discuss any other evidence that could be presented at trial.

Of the 37 homicide cases that went before Conley’s office in 2011, 33 resulted in convictions. Four ended in acquittals.

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.

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