Judge skeptical about motive for trial leak

Lawyer fears effect of report

Defense lawyer John Amabile (left) with Mattapan killings suspect Dwayne Moore, whose case ended in a mistrial.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge expressed skepticism Tuesday that District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office was looking to spin its failure to convict two men in the 2010 Mattapan killings by leaking information about the case to a Globe columnist.

The defense lawyer for Dwayne Moore, whose case ended in a mistrial, has asked the court to compel Conley’s office to prove that it did not give information to Globe columnist Brian McGrory about a sidebar conversation that took place between a judge and two jurors.

On March 22, the jury acquitted Edward Washington, 33, for murder but said it was deadlocked 11 to 1 on charges against Moore, who is accused of pulling the trigger in the fatal shooting that took the lives of four people, including a 2-year-old boy and his mother.


The acquittal and deadlock were blows to Conley’s office, which will retry Moore. A new trial has been scheduled for October.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“A cynical person would say that the district attorney would have motive to spin the verdict in a particular way,’’ John Amabile, who represents Moore, said during the Tuesday hearing.

Judge Jeffrey Locke, who did not preside over the murder trial, said he needed more information before he could make a decision.

“I’m not sure that I agree that I see a motive for the Commonwealth to leak it,’’ Locke said.

McGrory’s column ran the day after the jury’s decision and provided some details of the conversation between Judge Christine McEvoy and two female jurors, one of whom voted to acquit Moore. The sidebar conversation was meant to be heard only by defense attorneys, prosecutors, and court officers.


McEvoy asked reporters not to report any discussions, even if the sidebar conversation was audible.

McGrory, who was not present in court, reported the next day that one juror told McEvoy that the other juror told her that she planned to be a “holdout.’’

Those details were attributed to a “person briefed on [the] proceedings.’’

Amabile said the details were disclosed in defiance of McEvoy’s order and resulted in a column that made the lone juror appear unreasonable in her thinking. McGrory declined to comment on Amabile’s assertions.

Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin, who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday that he was not behind the disclosure. A separate Globe story that ran the same day as McGrory’s column quoted a juror who said the lone holdout had said she planned to vote for acquittal.


“Everything that’s in the column is restated in other articles,’’ Zabin said.

But Amabile said disclosing sidebar conversations could have a chilling effect on potential jurors.

“This is not a trivial issue,’’ Amabile said. “It goes to the heart of whether my client is going to be able to get a fair trial.’’

He said that he could subpoena McGrory or Zabin, but Locke urged him not to do so without seeking the court’s permission.

Locke will hear the motion again on May 8.

Moore, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held without bail.

Washington remains at South Bay Correctional Center, where he is finishing a 2 1/2-year sentence for a probation violation on a 2009 charge of possession of crack cocaine.

When Washington was arrested in December 2010, in the Mattapan slayings, the arrest was considered a probation violation. In February 2011, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for the violation, even though the prosecutor’s office, the probation department, and Washington’s lawyer had agreed to a one-year term, according to court documents.

After Washington’s acquittal, Michael Callanan, his lawyer for the probation case, moved to revoke the sentence. The motion was denied.

Callanan said he can appeal, but Washington would probably be free before there is a decision.

“We’re disappointed,’’ Callanan said.

Maria Cramer can be reached at