Commonwealth v. McDermottAnnotate this Case
In 1982, William F. McDermott was convicted of first-degree murder. On direct review, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found that the trial judge had erred in failing to instruct the jury that evidence of intoxication could be considered in determining whether McDermott acted with extreme atrocity or cruelty to support a verdict of first-degree murder. Instead of ordering a new trial, the court reduced the verdict to murder in the second degree.
In 2020, McDermott filed a motion for a new trial, claiming prosecutorial misconduct, improper jury instruction, and arguing that his sentence of life with the possibility of parole was unconstitutional. The Supreme Judicial Court found that while the prosecutor had engaged in misconduct, the errors did not create a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. The court also held that McDermott's challenges to the jury instructions were estopped by prior postconviction rulings, and that his sentence was not unconstitutional.
The court affirmed the denial of McDermott's motion for a new trial.