Commonwealth v. VelezAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for two counts of murder in the first degree and the denial of his motion for a new trial, holding that Defendant was not deprived of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel.
On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that it was manifestly unreasonable for his trial counsel to forgo mental health defenses in favor of a third-party culprit defense. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) trial counsel was not ineffective for urging one defense over the other, and Defendant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel's performance; and (2) there was no basis upon which to exercise the Court's extraordinary authority to order a new trial or to reduce the verdicts pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E.