The sole survivor of the 2010 Mattapan killings stunned a Suffolk Superior courtroom Friday when he said he had lied about his inability to identify the man who shot him and killed four others, including a young mother and her 2-year-old son.
On the second anniversary of the killings, Marcus Hurd, a former handyman whose injuries that night left him a quadriplegic, said it was the code of silence on Boston streets, not a poor memory, that prevented him from identifying Dwayne Moore as the shooter.
Hurd, now 34, said he grew up learning that to cooperate with police was to be a “snitch.”
The code, he said, was “don’t rat. Don’t tell.” So, he said, he repeatedly told police he could not identify anyone. When he testified during Moore’s murder trial in March, he told jurors under oath that he could not see the faces of the assailants.
“Could I identify who shot me? Yes,” Hurd said Friday. “The reason why I didn’t say anything before was because I was raised like a savage.”
He is coming forward now, he said, because he didn’t want to protect “a baby-killer.”
“I’m willing to accept the consequences of lying,” he said. “But as a man, I think it’s important I come forward and be truthful.”
Hurd, who is under state protection, spoke from a remote office, where his testimony was transmitted through live video.
Hurd testified for three hours, his comments elicited through questioning by Moore’s lawyer, John Amabile, during a hearing that will help a judge determine whether to allow the new testimony at Moore’s next trial scheduled for Oct. 11. It is unclear when Judge Jeffrey Locke will rule.
The first trial resulted in a hung jury for Moore and an acquittal for his co-defendant, Edward Washington, 33.
The key witness against Moore is Kimani Washington, a confessed pimp and convicted drug dealer who said he took part in the home invasion and robbery that preceded the shooting, but left before the killings of Simba Martin, 21; his girlfriend, Eyanna Flonory; her 2-year-old son, Amanihotep Smith; and Levaughn Washum-Garrison, Martin’s friend who slept on a couch that night.
Hurd’s testimony in March largely substantiated statements by Kimani Washington, who admitted on the stand that he lied to police about events that night and whose credibility was repeatedly attacked by the defense.
Now it is Hurd whose credibility could fall into question, legal specialists say. Amabile requested the hearing after prosecutors revealed in August that Hurd told detectives his memory improved during the March trial, when he came into court to testify and saw Moore at the defense table.
On Friday, Hurd said he had recognized Moore as the shooter well before that day.
Hurd said that a couple of months after the shooting he was watching television with his fiancee at the time, when Moore’s face appeared on the news. “ ‘Baby, that’s him right there,’ ” Hurd testified telling her. “When someone does something like that to you, if you see that person’s face again, you're going to recognize them.”
Hurd said Friday that the night of the shooting he could make out “50 percent” of Moore’s face, which was covered only by a tightly pulled hoodie. But when police questioned him in the weeks following the shooting, he told them the assailants wore masks and hoodies, making their faces difficult to see, a statement he repeated in court.
On Friday, Hurd said that only one of the men wore a mask, but that he had told police both men’s faces were covered, so they would leave him alone.
“Some of the questions [police] asked, I told them the truth,” he said. “Others, I would say whatever came to my mind just because I was aggravated,”
If the testimony is allowed, Amabile could pick it apart at trial, said Michael Doolin, a Dorchester defense attorney and former prosecutor.
“If a person tells a lie once and tells a second lie and then tells a third version, then how do you know that the person is telling the truth?” Doolin said. “I think that this seems to be an extreme case of someone who has changed their story so dramatically that it’s going to be difficult for the prosecution to frame this in such a way that the witness comes across as believable.”
But jury members could be swayed if they believe that Hurd’s motivation for telling so many different versions was fear, said Robert M. Griffin, a Walpole defense lawyer and former prosecutor.
On Friday, Hurd said, “I could get my head shot off on the streets of Boston” for identifying a defendant in court.
Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin could ask a jury to empathize with that fear, Griffin said.
“As a prosecutor you . . . argue, ‘Wouldn’t any one of you be afraid?’ ” he said. “I think more often than not in Suffolk County people are going to be forgiving of that. . . . You have a much more urban [jury pool.] Somebody is going to understand that.”
Jake Wark, a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors do not believe Hurd committed perjury when he testified at the grand jury in 2010 or during trial.
Amabile noted that Hurd told jurors in March that it was impossible to identify the defendants, saying, “I couldn’t see none of their face, no skin.”
But Wark said Hurd was describing the moment he first saw the assailants. He has since told detectives he got a closer look at Moore’s face as he and the other victims were being marched up Woolson Street, just before they were shot.
“Based on the transcripts of his trial testimony and the context of those statements, we don’t believe that he lied under oath at any time,” Wark said.
Asked if they would still put Hurd on the stand, Wark said, “We don’t discuss trial strategy.”Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.