BOSTON (AP) – A jury on Thursday acquitted one man accused in the execution-style slayings of three adults and a toddler on a Boston street and deadlocked on murder charges against another.
Edward Washington was cleared of murder and several related charges. Dwayne Moore was cleared of a drug charge, but the judge declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked on the other charges against him, including murder.
As the verdicts were read, one victim’s relative screamed, lunged forward and was removed by court officers along with another woman. Several family members followed and erupted in emotion in a hallway. Other onlookers buried their heads in their hands, or shook their heads and cried.
The jury deliberated for seven days after hearing a month of testimony about the September 2010 slayings, which prosecutors said happened during a drug robbery on a street in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood.
Washington and Moore were charged with killing 2-year-old Amani Smith, found in the arms of his mother, 21-year-old Eyanna Flonory. Also slain were Flonory’s boyfriend, 21-year-old Simba Martin, and 22-year-old Levaughn Washum-Garrison. A fifth victim, Marcus Hurd, was left paralyzed. Some of the victims were apparently dragged into the street naked before being shot.
Defense lawyers challenged the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness, Kimani Washington, who admitted taking part in the robbery but said he left before the shootings.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said he will retry Moore. “We always believed firmly and strongly that Dwayne Moore was the executioner here,” Conley told reporters outside the courtroom, adding, “we expect that the next jury that sits on this evidence and hears it and understands it as we do will find defendant Dwayne Moore guilty for his terrible crimes.”
Washington’s defense attorney John Cunha, said, “No tragedy can be reversed, but it would have been a greater tragedy if Eddy Washington had been falsely convicted.” Moore’s attorney, John Amabile, said the jury showed courage, and that his client “completely denies” the charges. Washington is still being held on unrelated charges; Moore is being held without bail.
Outside the courthouse, victims’ relatives expressed their outrage.
“My sister and nephew did not get justice,” said Ebony Flonory, sister of Eyanna Flonory. “I’ll never see my sister again. I’ll never call my sister again.”
Several relatives went to the nearby Statehouse to speak with Gov. Deval Patrick, who wasn’t there.
“The system failed us and we have no closure,” said Mark Davis, an uncle of Eyanna Flonory. “The murderer just walked away who killed my niece and the baby.”
Patrick said later he’d be willing to sit down with the families.
“I hope to see them, if they want to see me. I hope to sit with them and do what I can to help them heal,” Patrick told WHDH-TV. “As I said, they have to feel the loss in a fresh way, having gone through this trial.”
The jurors had said Monday they had reached a verdict on 10 counts, but were stuck on nine others, as one juror struggled over “reasonable doubt.” Judge Christine McEvoy urged them to continue. On Wednesday, they were still deadlocked, and voted to continue deliberating Thursday after McEvoy told them she couldn’t force them to go on.
Both defendants faced four counts of first-degree murder and single counts of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, armed assault with intent to murder, armed home invasion, armed robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. Moore was also charged with cocaine trafficking.
Defense attorneys portrayed Kimani Washington, Edward Washington’s cousin, as a thug, drunk, drug user and pimp who lied to investigators and was himself responsible for pulling the trigger. Prosecutors acknowledged he is a career criminal but said other evidence backed up his testimony. He struck a deal with prosecutors for a 16- to 18-year sentence.
Hurd, the survivor, testified he went to Martin’s house the night of the shootings to buy marijuana and was shot after being ordered out of the house. He said he played dead and didn’t see the shooter’s face.
The early morning shootings sent tremors through the city. They were the single deadliest in Boston since 2005, when four young men _ including three members of a rap group _ were fatally shot in a makeshift basement recording studio in the Dorchester neighborhood. Two men were convicted in that case.
On Thursday evening, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis and several ministers visited Mattapan, where numerous police officers were also on duty.
Mayor Thomas Menino issued a statement of sympathy and said police and prosecutors “will not be deterred in their search for justice for these families.”
“I encourage all those who are grieving to seek the guidance of trusted friends or spiritual advisors and not act on raw emotion during this difficult time,” he said. “Our city needs to heal.”
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)