Commonwealth v. DraytonAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the trial judge granting Defendant’s motion for a new trial, holding that the judge did not err in concluding that an affidavit by a deceased affiant was admissible and was newly discovered evidence that cast real doubt on the justice of Defendant’s convictions.
Defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree. The Commonwealth’s case against Defendant depended largely upon the testimony of James Jackson. Later, Debra Bell stated in an affidavit that Jackson could not have witnessed the shooting because he was in the bathroom with her at the relevant time. Bell died shortly after providing the affidavit. Defendant moved for a new trial, arguing that the affidavit was newly discovered evidence, but the trial judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court remanded the case for a hearing to determine whether Bell’s affidavit fell within the exception to the hearsay rule that applies where otherwise inadmissible hearsay is critical to the defense and bears persuasive guarantees of trustworthiness. On remand, a different judge determined that the affidavit fell within the exception and granted the motion for a new trial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the motion judge did not err in allowing Defendant’s motion for a new trial.