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Prosecutor takes stand in homicide case

Evidence an issue at pretrial hearing

In an unusual twist in the case against two men accused of shooting five people, including a 2-year-old, in a brutal execution in Mattapan in 2010, the lead prosecutor in the case found himself on the witness stand yesterday to defend his handling of evidence.

The trial of Dwayne Moore, 33, and Edward Washington, 32, both charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Sept. 28, 2010, shooting that left four people dead, is scheduled to begin Monday.

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But yesterday, Ed Zabin, assistant Suffolk district attorney, was called to testify during a hearing in which the defense sought to have the case dismissed.

At issue are the notes and tape-recordings from an interview police conducted with Jarrid Reese days after the shooting. John Amabile, Moore’s lawyer, characterized the evidence as exculpatory and said it had been withheld from the defense until three weeks ago.

Zabin, in his arguments before taking the witness stand, disputed Amabile’s characterization of the importance of notes and recordings. When he testified, Zabin explained that he forwarded the materials to Amabile and John Cunha, Washington’s lawyer, as soon as they hit his desk.

“The day that we received it, or the day after, you received it,’’ Zabin told Amabile.

Two police detectives, Frank McLaughlin and John Brown, testified earlier in the hearing that when they interviewed Reese, he told the detectives that he had been on Sutton Street to buy marijuana shortly before the shootings, and that he encountered a man he knew only by the nickname “Dre.’’ Reese, 23, of Dorchester, said that Dre was “going off’’ and was heard saying “I’m about to do that [guy] dirty.’’

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McLaughlin said he found the notes of the interview on Jan. 19 after Zabin asked detectives to go back over the case file to make sure that he had everything he needed before the start of the trial. McLaughlin said he should have documented the notes in an official report in 2010, but he overlooked them because many other things were happening during the investigation.

Reese and his lawyer appeared briefly in the courtroom yesterday. After a sidebar with Judge Christine McEvoy, the judge said Reese appears to have a constitutional right not to testify in the case. Reese, who is in custody on an unrelated matter but is scheduled to be released in days, has been reluctant to be interviewed or to testify.

“Nobody knows what he will, or will not, say about the events of that night,’’ Zabin said.

McEvoy is expected to rule today on the defense’s motion to dismiss the case, but indicated that the trial is likely to begin as scheduled.

Moore, of Mattapan, and Washington, of Dorchester, are charged with killing Eyanna Flonory, 21; her son, Amanihotep Smith, 2; Simba Martin, 21; and LeVaughn Washum-Garrison, 22.

A fifth man, Marcus Hurd, survived the shootings but is now paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Prosecutors allege that Moore, Washington, and Washington’s cousin - Kimani Washington, 36, of Dorchester - went to Martin’s residence on Sutton Street to steal drugs and money. The bodies of the victims were found outside on Woolson Street.

Authorities have said that Moore shot the victims, and Kimani Washington has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges and testify against his two alleged accomplices.

Diann Moore, Dwayne Moore’s mother, attended yesterday’s hearing and said that her son is innocent of the charges.

“There are a lot of inconsistencies and twisted information,’’ she said. “They just want to find somebody to blame.

“I’m deeply sorry what has happened to their loved ones, but I definitely know my son wasn’t raised that way. He is not perfect, no angel, but he was never, ever armed or used a weapon.’’

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.

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