Com. v. Nadworny

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtBefore HENNESSEY; LYNCH
Citation396 Mass. 342,486 N.E.2d 675
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. William NADWORNY.
Decision Date11 December 1985

Page 675

486 N.E.2d 675
396 Mass. 342
COMMONWEALTH

v.
William NADWORNY.
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts,
Essex.
Argued Sept. 11, 1985.
Decided Dec. 11, 1985.

Page 677

[396 Mass. 344] John J. Jennings, Lynn, Charles M. Burnim, Marblehead, with him, for defendant.

Dyanne Klein Polatin, Asst. Dist. Atty., Frederick B. McAlary, Asst. Dist. Atty., with her, for Com.

Before [396 Mass. 342] HENNESSEY, C.J., and LIACOS, NOLAN, LYNCH and O'CONNOR, JJ.

[396 Mass. 344] LYNCH, Justice.

On June 12, 1984, a jury convicted William Nadworny of murder in the second degree. He was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. The defendant filed a timely notice of appeal and later sought a stay of execution of sentence in the Appeals Court, which was allowed. Both parties filed applications for direct appellate review with this court. We granted both applications, and we affirm the conviction.

The defendant challenges his conviction on numerous grounds. He contends that the trial judge erred in not allowing his motions for required findings of not guilty. He also argues that the judge erred in failing to instruct the jury as to voluntary [396 Mass. 345] and involuntary manslaughter. Next, he challenges the judge's jury charge regarding consciousness of guilt and alleges error in the judge's failure to establish a procedure for the admission and use of evidence of consciousness of guilt. In addition, he maintains that the judge committed several errors in the admission and exclusion of evidence. He further argues that it was an error to admit certain of the defendant's statements; to preclude him from establishing that he had not received Miranda warnings; and to fail to instruct the jury adequately on factors relative to the voluntariness of statements made by the defendant to the police. Finally, the defendant claims that the combined effect of several of the alleged evidentiary errors raises a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice.

We state the evidence in some detail, because the case against the defendant was largely circumstantial. Lisa Belmonte was a seventeen-year-old student at Lynn Classical High School and lived with her family at 14 Breed Square in Lynn. The defendant was twenty-six years old, and until November, 1981, had lived next door to the Belmontes with his wife.

During the summer of 1981, Lisa and the defendant became romantically involved. Throughout the fall of 1981, the defendant would visit Lisa during her school lunch period almost every day and often picked her up at school. In November, 1981, the defendant separated from his wife and moved to a nearby apartment at 20 South Street, Lynn.

In the fall of 1981, as Lisa began to see more and more of the defendant, her behavior at home began to change. On the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, 1981, Lisa ran away from home and stayed at the defendant's apartment. She was found

Page 678

hiding in one of the basement storage bins in the defendant's apartment building.

As a result of this and other episodes of running away, Lisa's mother and father filed a petition under G.L. c. 119, §§ 39E-39J (1984 ed.) (CHINS), at Lynn District Court, and Lisa was referred to the Family and Children Services of Greater Lynn for counselling.

During this period, Lisa's schoolwork appeared relatively unaffected. Lisa was an "A student," her work was excellent, [396 Mass. 346] and she was very attentive and sociable in school. She missed several weeks of school during the fall of 1981, yet she promptly made up the work. Her teachers saw no indication that during the school year of 1981, Lisa was a drug or alcohol user.

Lisa was in good health. She had never been hospitalized overnight. In September of 1981, she had a lump removed from her breast. Prior to this, a case of swollen glands when Lisa was in junior high school was her most serious episode of illness. The doctor who discovered the lump testified that he gave Lisa a complete physical on September 24, 1981, and that Lisa was in good health, except for the lump. A test for diabetes was also performed at this time and proved negative.

In January, 1982, Curt Willis, a former boyfriend of Lisa's who was then stationed in England with the United States Air Force, informed Lisa that he was to be discharged in March. At the beginning of 1982, Lisa's behavior improved and her mother testified that she was "back to her old self." In early March, Lisa picked Curt up at Logan International Airport and the two began seeing each other almost every day from then until Lisa's disappearance on March 18, 1982.

In January and February, 1982, there was a diminution of contact between Lisa and the defendant. Lisa's classmate and close friend, Debra Ann Lewis, testified that the defendant and Lisa were less frequently seen together during this period, and that, when the defendant would drive by and offer Lisa a ride, Lisa would turn the defendant down. At the end of February, the defendant told Debby that he loved Lisa and "couldn't bear it if they broke up," and asked Debby to tell Lisa that he wanted to see her. The defendant repeated these feelings to Debby Lewis during the course of more conversations throughout early March of 1982.

Presumably in response to a perceived lessening of Lisa's interest in their relationship, the defendant sent her a letter in early March. In it, he acknowledged the change in their relationship and the pain it caused him, the fact that Lisa was seeing Curt Willis "almost every night," and that the defendant felt "used" by her. He asked Lisa to telephone him so that they could get together.

[396 Mass. 347] Lisa sent the defendant a letter 1 which was received by him sometime during the beginning of March, in which she made clear that she intended to end their relationship and that if she met with the defendant again it would only be for the purpose of saying goodbye.

On March 18, 1982, Lisa attended a previously scheduled 5 P.M. appointment with Patricia Thompson, a clinical social worker and the counsellor Lisa had been seeing at the Family and Children Services of Greater Lynn. Patricia Thompson testified that Lisa "seemed in excellent spirits. She

Page 679

seemed to be functioning well in all areas of her life." Lisa seemed alert, and her morale was "excellent." Lisa told her that she was planning to break off the relationship with the defendant, had sent a letter to the defendant telling him of her intentions, and that the defendant had written back asking for one more meeting with her. Patricia Thompson and Lisa agreed that Lisa was improved enough to discontinue regularly scheduled counselling sessions. Lisa discussed the fact that she was again dating Curt Willis. Lisa stated that she intended to go over to the defendant's apartment immediately after the counselling session and break off the relationship. Lisa and Patricia Thompson "kind of rehearsed" what Lisa might say to the defendant. Patricia Thompson testified that Lisa was going to say "goodbye" and tell the defendant that she was going to continue to see Curt. Lisa left Patricia Thompson's office just before 6 P.M., seeming calm, cheerful, and perfectly normal.

[396 Mass. 348] Curt Willis received a telephone call from Lisa at approximately 6 P.M. on March 18. She told him that she would call him later. Curt and Lisa had plans to go to a birthday party together on Friday, March 19. About 7 P.M., this same evening, Lisa telephoned Debby Lewis. Lisa told Debby that "she [Lisa] and Billy [the defendant] was talking [sic]." Debby noticed nothing unusual in Lisa's tone.

Earl Bethune, who worked with the defendant and was also a close friend, telephoned the defendant's apartment at 7 P.M. on March 18, 1982, to see if he could spend the night there. The defendant told him not to come. "Lisa's here," he said, "[w]hy don't you come over in a couple of hours. She's going to be leaving shortly." Earl Bethune could hear a girl's voice over the telephone during this conversation. At about nine o'clock that night, Earl went to the defendant's apartment. He saw the defendant's car parked outside the apartment house and saw a light on in the defendant's apartment. Earl pushed the defendant's door buzzer persistently, but he received no answer. Lisa did not return home that night. She was never again seen alive by family or friends.

At about noon on March 19, 1982, Debby called the defendant and asked him where Lisa was. He replied that she was probably at school, and that she had left his apartment at 9:30 the night before.

At approximately 6 P.M., March 19, 1982, Earl Bethune went with the defendant to the defendant's apartment. Earl noticed a large red-brown stain on the defendant's white living room rug, which had not been there earlier in the week. The defendant said that someone had thrown up on the rug. 2 The defendant's door buzzer sounded and Lisa's sister, Stephanie, and Curt Willis could be seen on the defendant's television security monitor. The defendant said that if anyone asked where the defendant was the night before, Earl should say he was with the defendant. The defendant then let Stephanie and Curt in and told them that he did not know where Lisa was, and [396 Mass. 349] had not seen her in weeks. After Stephanie and Curt left, the defendant told Earl that he had broken up with Lisa the night before and "she got bummed out and left."

The following morning, March 20, 1982, the defendant asked Earl to "alibi" for him if anyone asked where he was on the evening of March 18, 1982. At about 4 P.M. on the same day, Lisa's mother came to the defendant's apartment with Stephanie. Seeing the visitors on his television monitor, the defendant told Earl not to let them in because they wanted to "know where Lisa was" and he "didn't know" and "didn't want nothing to do with them." Earl nevertheless opened the door and the defendant told Lisa's...

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82 practice notes
  • Com. v. Cook
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 20, 1994
    ...jury was impaired in any way. See Commonwealth v. Mayfield, 398 Mass. 615, 619-622, 500 N.E.2d 774 (1986); Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 372, 486 N.E.2d 675, cert. denied, 477 U.S. 904, 106 S.Ct. 3274, 91 L.Ed.2d 564 (1985). Absent such a showing, the argument fails for lack of T......
  • Com. v. Williams
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 20, 1996
    ...as a matter of law to sustain a conviction on the charge." Mass.R.Crim.P. 25(a), 378 Mass. 896 (1979). Accord Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 353-354, 486 N.E.2d 675, cert. denied, 477 U.S. 904, 106 S.Ct. 3274, 91 L.Ed.2d 564 A. The unlawful carrying of a firearm. To prove unlawful......
  • Com. v. Lawrence
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • March 20, 1989
    ...examiner's testimony that, because of the decomposition, he could not establish a precise cause of death. Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 367, 486 N.E.2d 675 (1985), cert. denied, 477 U.S. 904, 106 S.Ct. 3274, 91 L.Ed.2d 564 (1986). The photograph of the fetus was relevant to show ......
  • Commonwealth v. Summers, No. 16–P–1343
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • September 7, 2017
    ...why an innocent person might flee." Commonwealth v. Toney, 385 Mass. 575, 585 n.6, 433 N.E.2d 425 (1982).5 See Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 371, 486 N.E.2d 675 (1985) (consciousness of guilt evidence is equivocal in nature).Where a conviction is premised on these two elements, n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
82 cases
  • Com. v. Cook
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 20, 1994
    ...jury was impaired in any way. See Commonwealth v. Mayfield, 398 Mass. 615, 619-622, 500 N.E.2d 774 (1986); Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 372, 486 N.E.2d 675, cert. denied, 477 U.S. 904, 106 S.Ct. 3274, 91 L.Ed.2d 564 (1985). Absent such a showing, the argument fails for lack of T......
  • Com. v. Williams
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 20, 1996
    ...as a matter of law to sustain a conviction on the charge." Mass.R.Crim.P. 25(a), 378 Mass. 896 (1979). Accord Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 353-354, 486 N.E.2d 675, cert. denied, 477 U.S. 904, 106 S.Ct. 3274, 91 L.Ed.2d 564 A. The unlawful carrying of a firearm. To prove unlawful......
  • Com. v. Lawrence
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • March 20, 1989
    ...examiner's testimony that, because of the decomposition, he could not establish a precise cause of death. Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 367, 486 N.E.2d 675 (1985), cert. denied, 477 U.S. 904, 106 S.Ct. 3274, 91 L.Ed.2d 564 (1986). The photograph of the fetus was relevant to show ......
  • Commonwealth v. Summers, No. 16–P–1343
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • September 7, 2017
    ...why an innocent person might flee." Commonwealth v. Toney, 385 Mass. 575, 585 n.6, 433 N.E.2d 425 (1982).5 See Commonwealth v. Nadworny, 396 Mass. 342, 371, 486 N.E.2d 675 (1985) (consciousness of guilt evidence is equivocal in nature).Where a conviction is premised on these two elements, n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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