Commonwealth v. McDonaghAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for aggravated statutory rape and indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen, holding that the trial judge erred in allowing the prosecutor’s closing argument that invited the jury to infer that Defendant was sexually attracted to children and, therefore, more likely to have committed the crimes charged, but Defendant was not prejudiced.
The prosecutor’s comment in this case concerned the purposes for which the jury could consider other bad act evidence that had properly been admitted through the parties’ stipulation. The evidence was admitted to corroborate the victim’s testimony that Defendant showed him child pornography while committing the acts of abuse at issue, but the judge allowed the Commonwealth to argue that the jury could consider the evidence to demonstrate Defendant’s state of mind. The Supreme Court held (1) because Defendant’s state of mind was not at issue, the judge erred in allowing the prosecutor to make that argument in closing; but (2) in light of the prosecutor’s entire closing argument, the evidence presented at trial, and the trial judge’s limiting instructions, Defendant was not prejudiced.