Voicing concerns over finding an impartial jury, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the jurors for the retrial of Dwayne Moore, who is accused of killing four people and critically injuring another in Mattapan in 2010, must come from Worcester County and could be bused to Boston each day.
Though Moore’s lawyer, John Amabile, requested a change of venue to Franklin County or Berkshire County, Judge Jeffrey Locke said a complete relocation was unnecessary.
If feasible, Locke wrote in his decision, jurors will be bused into Suffolk County each day of the retrial. Amabile declined comment on the ruling.
Locke contended that extensive news coverage around the first trial of Moore in March could cause new jurors from Suffolk County, where that proceeding was held, to harbor preconceived notions. The jury deadlocked in Moore’s murder trial, and a new trial was ordered for the week of Oct. 15.
“A significant number of stories have, as a theme, the fact that no one has yet been convicted for such a horrendous group of murders,” Locke wrote in his decision. “Likely in the minds of many, justice will not be achieved until the defendant has been held accountable.”
Moore is accused of killing Simba Martin, 21; his girlfriend, Eyanna Flonory; her 2-year-old son, Amanihotep Smith; and Levaughn Washum-Garrison, a friend of Martin, on Woolson Street on Sept. 28, 2010. Marcus Hurd, 34, was wounded in the attack and was left a quadriplegic.
Locke cited the small populations and courthouses of Franklin and Berkshire counties as reasons for declining to move the trial to those areas.
In a statement Friday, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he respects Locke’s ruling, but said he believes local jurors could have made a fair decision.
“We have great confidence in the ability of the citizens of Suffolk County to fairly decide this case, and we made this clear to the court in our opposition,” Conley said.
Changes of venue are exceedingly rare in criminal cases, several defense attorneys said Friday. Similar motions were denied in two recent local cases involving prominent defendants: Neil Entwistle, who was convicted of killing his wife and infant daughter; and Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, accused of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter.
John Cunha, who represented Edward Washington, Moore’s codefendant in the first murder trial, said the publicity surrounding the case made it the perfect candidate, however. Washington was acquitted in that trial.
“You probably get a change in venue in one in a thousand [cases], maybe even more,” Cuhna said. But he later added, “If this case doesn’t merit it, which case does?”
But Max Stern, another defense lawyer, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of Locke’s decision.
“I would think that the principal problem in that case is the exposure of the jurors to the Boston media market, and I have to question whether this decision really solves that problem,” he said.
Stern won a change of venue in the trial two decades ago of Albert Lewin, who was accused of shooting a Boston police officer. Lewin’s case was moved to Franklin County, and he was eventually acquitted of killing Detective Sherman C. Griffiths.
People in Worcester have probably read about Moore’s first trial, and jurors could be exposed to the blitz of news coverage when they are shuttled in for the retrial, Stern said.
Patricia Washum-Bennett, the mother of victim Washum-Garrison, said Friday she believes Locke’s decision is fair, as long as jurors “do what they’re [in court] to do.”
She said no one wants to go through another trial, “but until justice is served, you do what you have to do.”
contributed to this report.
Zachary T. Sampson can be
reached at zachary.sampson@