Commonwealth v. Vincent, SJC–11177.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation469 Mass. 786,17 N.E.3d 1045
Docket NumberSJC–11177.
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. David W. VINCENT, Third.
Decision Date14 October 2014

469 Mass. 786
17 N.E.3d 1045

David W. VINCENT, Third.


Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Berkshire.

Argued April 11, 2014.
Decided Oct. 14, 2014.

17 N.E.3d 1046

Greg T. Schubert for the defendant.

17 N.E.3d 1047

John P. Bossé, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.




On the morning of June 3, 2009, police received reports from staff at a regional medical center in Pittsfield that a woman had been admitted with life-threatening injuries that might have resulted from a domestic dispute. The woman, Rebecca Moulton, was the girl friend of the defendant. Early that afternoon, the defendant went to the Pittsfield police station; after an initial interview with police, which was not recorded at his request, he was arrested for aggravated assault and battery. In a subsequent interview that he requested after booking, again not recorded at his request, the defendant made additional incriminating statements. Moulton died the following day, and the defendant thereafter was arraigned on charges of murder in the first degree.

At trial, the defendant conceded that he had beaten Moulton, but asserted that he had not intended to cause her grievous injury or death. The theory of defense was that, as a result of his addiction to, and consumption of, large amounts of alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana on the night in question, the defendant lacked the requisite intent to support a conviction of murder in the first degree. A Superior Court jury found the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree on a theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty.2 The defendant's appeal from his conviction was consolidated with his appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial.

As does his motion for a new trial, the defendant's appeal focuses primarily on asserted error in the denial of his motion to suppress incriminating statements made during the course of the two police interviews. He contends that the statements were made after he had invoked his right to an attorney, and that police failed scrupulously to honor that invocation. He maintains also that the statements were involuntary, and made as a result of intoxication and police coercion. Finally, the defendant contends that his counsel was ineffective for failing to raise a claim in his motion for a new trial that his right to prompt arraignment had been violated. The defendant also asks that we exercise our power

under G.L. c. 278, § 33E, to grant him a new trial. After reviewing the entire record pursuant to our duty under that statute, we affirm the conviction and discern no reason to reduce the degree of guilt or to order a new trial.

Events from May 29 through June 4. We summarize the facts the jury could have found. In June, 2009, the defendant and Moulton had been in a romantic relationship for at least one year. Approximately two months earlier, they had moved into an apartment in Pittsfield.3 The defendant talked to their mutual friends John Sanginetti, Mark Szymanski, and Sara Archer about his relationship with Moulton, conveying that he was jealous of Moulton's relationships with other

17 N.E.3d 1048

men and was “paranoid” that she might be cheating on him. He often took her cellular telephone from her hand in order to check the calls that she had made and received, asked her who had called, and deleted callers' telephone numbers. On May 29, 2009, Moulton left the apartment she shared with the defendant and stayed for three days at the apartment of her friend Meaghan Rawson. During this time, the defendant's friends thought he appeared frantic and angry, and was trying to “hunt [Moulton] down”; he frequently called Moulton's cellular telephone and also telephoned Rawson in an effort to locate Moulton. In several voice mail messages, and in speaking directly to Moulton, the defendant threatened to kill Moulton's pet bird if she did not return to the Pittsfield apartment. Moulton returned to that apartment on May 31.

Moulton spent the afternoon of June 2 with her brother, shopping for a dress to wear at his upcoming wedding.4 They made some additional purchases before he drove her back to her apartment, where the defendant was waiting. Around 6 p.m. , Moulton and the defendant purchased alcohol at a nearby liquor store, and a friend arrived with some “crack” cocaine at approximately 9 p.m. Later that evening, Moulton left the apartment and went to Sanginetti's apartment, which was nearby, waking him up; she appeared to be “scared” and “shook up.” They talked briefly, and she left a short time later. At some point after midnight, a

neighbor in the apartment building heard sounds coming from Moulton's apartment, including a man's voice yelling, “I am tired of you cheating on me,” or “why did you cheat on me,” and a female voice responding. Another neighbor, in the adjoining apartment, heard repeated banging against the apartments' shared wall.5

At 12:39 a.m. on June 3, the defendant telephoned his supervisor and left a message stating that, because he and Moulton had argued, he would not be at work later that day. Also around that time, he telephoned the home of his friends Archer and Daniel Delsano and spoke with Delsano. When Archer heard about the call, she telephoned the defendant and asked him what had happened and what “did he do to” Moulton. The defendant responded that he “didn't do anything,” that he had found Moulton unconscious on the floor, and that, when he was unable to wake her, he gave her mouth to mouth resuscitation and pounded on her chest to get her to breathe again. When the defendant said that he was unable to awaken Moulton, Archer urged him to telephone for emergency medical assistance, but the defendant demurred, stating that “he didn't want to get in trouble” or be blamed.

Between 2:30 and 3 a.m. , the defendant telephoned several family members and asked for help; his aunt and a brother came to the apartment in response to one

17 N.E.3d 1049

of his calls. When they arrived, they saw Moulton unconscious on the sofa; they watched as the defendant placed her on an air mattress in the living room.6 His brother urged the defendant to telephone for an ambulance, but the defendant indicated his concern that police might think he had had some role in Moulton's injuries. The aunt and brother left together twenty to thirty minutes later. At approximately 8 a.m. ,

the defendant called another brother and again asked for help; he said Moulton had been passed out since 2 a.m. This brother arrived at the apartment at about 8:30 a.m. and telephoned 911 after he observed Moulton's condition. He also told the defendant to leave the apartment, and the defendant did so.7

Paramedics found Moulton in bed in the bedroom, covered to the neck by a comforter. When the comforter was moved, they observed that her shirt was raised, exposing her abdomen, and that her jeans were largely pulled off, remaining only on one leg. She had extensive bruising on her face and body, which appeared to be “newer ... but not [having occurred] within the [past] couple hours,” and swelling from a contusion on her head. Moulton was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where medical personnel determined that her injuries were likely the result of a beating and contacted Pittsfield police; they informed police that Moulton's injuries were life threatening and, later, that her chances of survival were slim.8 Moulton died shortly after noon on June 4, 2009.9

2. Statements to police at issue in motion to suppress. During the early afternoon of June 3, the defendant's mother and father drove him to the Pittsfield police station, arriving at 1:40 p.m. The defendant was escorted to an interview room where he spoke with Detective Diane M. Caccamo, the lead investigator in the assault on Moulton, and Sergeant Mark Strout. The defendant was given Miranda warnings, signed a Miranda waiver form, and agreed to speak with the officers but indicated that he did not wish the interview to be recorded. He also so indicated on the form. The

audio-video recording that had been underway when the defendant entered the interview room was stopped at that point.10 Approximately

17 N.E.3d 1050

twenty minutes into the interview, the defendant stated that he needed an attorney and stopped talking. At that point, the interview ended; the defendant was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery, and was led through the booking process by Officer Tyrone Price.11

During booking, the defendant was again informed of his Miranda rights and advised that he had the right to use a telephone. He was asked whether he wished to use the telephone, and answered that he did. After placing a telephone call, the defendant appeared visibly upset and told Price that he wanted to speak to Strout again, responding to Price's question that he wanted to so do without an attorney present. At approximately 3 p.m. , a second interview was conducted, which the defendant terminated shortly after it began. During the brief...

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7 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Libby, SJC–11749.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 26 Junio 2015
    ...were not unequivocal refusals to speak until the defendant had an opportunity to confer with counsel. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Vincent, 469 Mass. 786, 793, 796–797, 17 N.E.3d 1045 (2014) (statement not suppressed where defendant asked officers whether he "should get a lawyer" and said, "I......
  • Commonwealth v. Vargas
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 30 Agosto 2016
    ...request for an attorney.” Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 459, 114 S.Ct. 2350, 129 L.Ed.2d 362 (1994). See Commonwealth v. Vincent, 469 Mass. 786, 796, 17 N.E.3d 1045 (2014) (“defendant's statements concerning possibly needing or wanting a lawyer were ambiguous and equivocal, and woul......
  • State v. Lynch, 2015–0358
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 10 Marzo 2017
    ...the statement and then immediately continued to talk—explaining to Munck that he did not commit the alleged assault. See Com. v. Vincent, 469 Mass. 786, 17 N.E.3d 1045, 1053, 1053–54 (2014) (concluding trial judge did not err in finding "defendant's statements concerning possibly needing or......
  • Commonwealth v. Davis
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • 9 Octubre 2020
    ...arrested after invoking his right to counsel does not render involuntary every statement he made thereafter. See Commonwealth v. Vincent, 469 Mass. 786, 791, 799, 17 N.E.3d 1045 (2014) (statements admissible where, after defendant invoked right to counsel, police arrested him, and he initia......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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