Companonio v. O'Brien, No. 09-2428 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
During his trial for the 1986 shooting death of an acquaintance, defendant unsuccessfully urged the jury to find that someone else could have shot the victim, that the killing was accidental, or that he had been too impaired by alcohol or drugs to form specific intent to kill. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. Almost five years later, defendant filed a motion for a new trial, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, based on trial counsel's failure to present a mental impairment or illness defense. Following an evidentiary hearing, defendant was denied a new trial. The state's highest court determined that defendant was competent to stand trial and that counsel's decision was not unreasonable, in light of defendant's opposition to the mental impairment defense. The district court denied a petition for habeas corpus. The First Circuit affirmed.