Defiant and angry, the mother of the key witness in the case of a quadruple homicide in Mattapan told a Suffolk Superior Court jury yesterday that she did not feel safe testifying, despite an agreement she made with prosecutors to pay for her move from her longtime Boston home under the state’s witness protection program.
Charlene Washington bristled when defense lawyers asked her about the housing benefits she received as a witness in the homicide case against two men in the 2010 crime.
“This means nothing to me because we’re not in protective custody,’’ she said of the agreement. “I don’t feel like I’m being protected.’’
Washington’s son, Kimani, has testified that he helped the defendants rob the victims, but left before the shootings, which took the lives of a mother and her 2-year-old son.
When the prosecutor asked Charlene Washington if she felt as if she were getting benefits from testifying, Washington replied hotly: “What’s the benefit of me having to move from where I felt so comfortable and so safe for 17 years and being forced to move out because of what three men did?’’
Charlene Washington was called to testify against her nephew, 32-year-old Edward Washington, who prosecutors say drove to the crime scene that night and obtained one of the weapons used in the robbery. He is being tried alongside Dwayne Moore, 34, who is accused of pulling the trigger in the early morning hours of Sept. 28, 2010, on Woolson Street.
Moore and Edward Washington have pleaded not guilty to charges they robbed and killed Eyanna Flonory and her 2-year-old son, Amanihotep Smith; her boyfriend, Simba Martin, 21; and Levaughn Washum-Garrison, 22, who was sleeping on Martin’s couch that night.
Tensions have been high in the courtroom, where relatives of the victims and the defendants have sat side by side since the trial began two weeks ago.
Yesterday morning, Charlene Washington’s testimony was interrupted by yelling in the hallway. Several people in the galley ran out to the hall, where they found Flonory’s sister crying. Nearby was Moore’s mother, standing quietly next to an officer. She later left the courthouse and did not return.
Judge Christine McEvoy called a recess and an hour later told the jury there had been yelling, but no fighting.
“There were no blows thrown,’’ said McEvoy, who urged the jury to ignore the outburst. “Please, you need to focus on the evidence in the case.’’
It was the third time McEvoy had to address commotion from those in the galley.
During the first days of testimony, McEvoy told family members they needed to keep their emotions under control during graphic testimony because their outbursts had led the defense to ask for a mistrial.
Last week, a man was thrown out of the courtroom after he screamed “snitch’’ and “rat’’ at Kimani Washington, who will not face murder charges in exchange for his testimony.
He is expected to be sentenced to prison on charges related to the armed robbery.
His brother, Charles, who testified that he loaned the getaway car to Edward Washington, also made a deal to avoid prosecution.
Charlene Washington told defense lawyers that when she agreed to testify, she did not think she and her sons would be exposed to reporters, who have covered the case aggressively.
Yesterday, she pointed to the cameras in the courtroom and said: “Would you consider this being safe? No.’’
The fiery exchanges came after Charlene Washington testified that her nephew made incriminating statements after the killings.
Charlene Washington was at her Fowler Street home in Dorchester when police found the guns believed to have been used in the crime. Two months later, police returned to seize her son’s car, allegedly used in the crime.
Charlene Washington said that Edward Washington made this statement when he learned the car had been taken: “They’re not going to find anything. I got a good lawyer, anyway.’’
Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin also called to the stand a childhood friend of Dwayne Moore’s, Dedrick Cole, who testified that he ran into Moore during summer 2010.
Dwayne Moore, who Cole said he had not seen since 1995, asked him if he would help him commit a robbery, according to the testimony.
Cole said he “was for it,’’ but the plan never took off.
Moore’s lawyer, John Amabile, asked Cole, who has several drug and assault convictions, if he is a regular police informant.
Amabile said that since Cole agreed to testify in the Woolson Street case and another trial, prosecutors have vouched for him during probation hearings.
Cole, who said he was initially a suspect in the 2010 killings, asserted that he was motivated to speak out for another reason.
“At the end of the day,’’ he said, “a little boy was lying dead.’’