Commonwealth v. ButhAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions on two indictments charging murder in the first degree and declined to grant extraordinary relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E.
A jury convicted Defendant for the shooting deaths of Amy Dumas and Robert Finnerty. Both murder indictments were based on a theory of joint venture felony-murder, with armed home invasion as the predicate offense. The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the convictions, holding (1) the Commonwealth established beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant participated in committing armed home invasion as a joint venturer and that the victims were killed in furtherance of that crime; (2) the trial judge’s failure to instruct the jury on the merger doctrine of felony-murder did not give rise to a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; and (3) this Court declines to depart from the holding in Commonwealth v. Brown, 477 Mass. 805, 825 (2017) that the new rule that “a defendant may not be convicted of murder without proof of one of the three prongs of malice” was prospective only.