One of the most horrifying murder cases in the city’s recent history, a quadruple killing that took the life of a 2-year-old boy and led to outraged cries for justice, ended Thursday with the acquittal of one defendant and a mistrial for the other.
A Suffolk jury stunned a packed courtroom of victims’ relatives who had been waiting for resolution for nearly 18 months and through seven days of deliberations. Some wept, yelled, and cursed as the jury foreman said codefendant Edward Washington was not guilty of all nine charges against him.
One woman, an aunt of the little boy, lunged toward the defense table, screaming, and had to be dragged from the courtroom by court officers who had assembled for the verdict.
“Jesus,’’ another relative exclaimed, while others sobbed quietly. Some were so devastated by the verdict they became physically ill.
“None of the victims got justice,’’ Ebony Flonory, the child’s aunt, said outside Suffolk Superior Court. The defendants “are free,’’ she said. “They can breathe. . . . My nephew was only 2. He never made it to kindergarten.’’
Flonory and other relatives had endured five weeks of trial, with graphic testimony about the killings, including photographs of bloodied victims in the street, and said they were convinced of the defendants’ guilt. Many waited near the courtroom during deliberations, even as jurors said they could not reach a unanimous decision, anxious for guilty verdicts.
Jurors said Thursday that they remained deadlocked on nine charges against Dwayne Moore, 34, who was accused of being the triggerman. He was acquitted of one charge, cocaine trafficking.
A juror who requested anonymity said the jury was 11 to 1 in favor of convicting Moore on the nine other charges against him, including the slayings of 21-year-old Simba Martin; his girlfriend, Eyanna Flonory; her son, Amanihotep Smith; and Martin’s friend, Levaughn Washum-Garrison. A fifth victim, Marcus Hurd, was shot in the head, but survived. He is now paralyzed from the shoulders down.
The juror said the evidence against Washington was not strong enough for conviction.
Another juror, who also asked not to be named, confirmed that the majority of the jury wanted to convict Moore of the murder charges.
“The jury had a hard time getting everyone to agree on the testimony, and I would have liked to see him do time,’’ the second juror said. “It made me feel sad that I wasn’t able to vote the way I wanted to and see justice for the families. I feel like justice wasn’t served.’’
The decision reverberated throughout the city, which was stunned in September 2010 by the killings.
Nowhere was it more keenly felt than on Mattapan’s Woolson Street, the scene of the crime, and police officers flooded the area Thursday to watch for any tension that might erupt. City health workers prepared to fan out around the neighborhood to offer counseling services to those traumatized by the verdict. Mayor Thomas M. Menino called the outcome tragic and urged those outraged by the verdict to remain calm.
“I encourage all those who are grieving to seek the guidance of trusted friends or spiritual advisers and not act on raw emotion during this difficult time,’’ said Menino. “Our city needs to heal. We need to be good to one another and take care of our neighbors to stop the cycle of violence and prevent another tragedy like this heinous one.’’
Minutes after the verdict, a furious Delorise Flonory, the grandmother and adoptive mother of Eyanna Flonory, strode to the State House nearby, hoping to voice her outrage to Governor Deval Patrick.
Patrick was not there. Instead, she and other relatives met with his chief of staff, Mo Cowan, who said he could give them little recourse except a promise that the governor would contact them.
Late Thursday afternoon, Patrick, spoke to reporters on Boston Common and called the verdict unbelievable.
“I can’t imagine what the family is feeling, having mourned the loss and then mourning the loss of the verdict,’’ Patrick said, according to a transcript released by his office. “It’s unimaginable.’’
John Cunha, who defended Washington, called on elected leaders to not criticize the decision of the jurors, whom he called “heroes.’’
Elected officials “weren’t there and they didn’t hear the evidence,’’ Cunha said. “They had citizens who were there for six weeks, six weeks of their lives, conscientiously hearing the evidence.’’
The first juror who spoke on condition of anonymity described how another juror wanted to acquit Moore despite all of the others voting to convict. According to that juror, the dissenter said during deliberations that she would be a holdout, though she did not explain why.
“She just said she didn’t want to be judged,’’ he said in a phone interview. “She mentioned her religious beliefs, but I don’t know if that played into it at all.
“I thought it was a perversion of justice.’’
Asked if he felt the testimony of Kimani Washington - a 36-year-old career criminal, who confessed to being an accomplice to the crime - was credible, the juror said there was a lot the panel could not corroborate. He did not cite any examples.
He said he empathized with victims’ families, but did not let their emotions prevent him from looking at the evidence objectively and voting to acquit Washington.
“A couple of times I broke down and cried,’’ he said.
Edward Washington, who had been stoic throughout much of the trial, smiled widely after the verdicts were read and hugged Cunha. He is being held at South Bay Correctional Center on a probation violation for a charge Cunha described as minor.
Cunha said he could not remember the charge but said Washington’s probation was revoked when he was arrested in connection with the shootings. Cunha said he did not know when Washington would be freed.
Moore is still being held without bail on the nine remaining charges.
Washington’s mother, Karen Clyburn, who had come to court every day of the trial, said, “It’s a good day for my son.’’
But she said she grieved for the relatives of the victims, some of whom she befriended during the trial.
“It’s something that was senseless,’’ she said of the killings. “As a mother, you have to feel for that, if you have any kind of heart.’’
From the start, the case was difficult, hinging on the word of Kimani Washington. Prosecutors had no physical evidence tying either Moore or Edward Washington to the crime, an armed home invasion for drugs and cash. Edward Washington was described as the getaway driver who obtained the guns for the robbery.
Only Kimani Washington, a cousin of Edward Washington, placed the two other men at the scene, but defense attorneys aggressively attacked his testimony, picking at inconsistencies in his statements to police and undermining his credibility.
Timothy Burke, a Needham defense attorney and former Suffolk prosecutor, said police and prosecutors had no choice but to rely on Kimani Washington.
“They cannot manufacture evidence that doesn’t exist,’’ said Burke, who used to prosecute homicide cases. “The only way they’re going to obtain a potential conviction is through the use of informants, as despicable as they might be.’’
The defense lawyers were just as aggressive in their questioning of the lead homicide detective in the case, who acknowledged police did not follow other potential investigative leads.
The evidence against Moore was somewhat stronger. Phone records showed he called Martin just before the shootings, which prosecutors said backed their assertion that Moore called Martin to lure him out of the house.
John Amabile, Moore’s lawyer, said his client intends to prove his innocence. “His reaction is obviously extreme relief that he was not convicted of something that he didn’t do and he will not be in jail for the rest of his life,’’ Amabile said.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said prosecutors believed they had compelling enough evidence to tie Edward Washington to the killings.
“We are disappointed by this verdict, but we always knew that the case against Edward Washington was not as strong as it was against Dwayne Moore,’’ Conley told reporters outside the courtroom. “With respect to Dwayne Moore, make no mistake. . . . We will hold him accountable for these heinous crimes. 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.’’
Kimani Washington, who accepted a plea deal that would let him avoid murder charges in exchange for his testimony, will probably testify in a new trial. He is expected to be sentenced March 27 in the same courtroom where he testified.
For Delorise Flonory, who sat through the entire trial and waited every day in the courthouse for a verdict, the prospect of a new trial was no consolation.
“Why should we keep putting ourselves through this waiting long as we waited to get justice and it didn’t happen,’’ she said.