Dwayne Moore, accused of killing three adults and a 2-year-old boy on a Mattapan street in 2010, was found guilty Monday on more than half the counts against him, ensuring that he will be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
But jurors acquitted Moore of three lesser charges, suggesting to some that the jurors may have had doubts about whether he pulled the trigger in what is deemed one of the worst killings in the city’s recent history.
Moore, 35, shook his head and looked down as the jury’s forewoman called out “guilty” of first-degree murder in the slayings of 21-year-old Simba Martin, his 21-year-old girlfriend Eyanna Flonory, her 2-year-old son, Amanihotep Smith, and Levaughn Washum-Garrison, a 22-year-old man who had been sleeping on Martin’s couch the night of the killings.
Prosecutors said the victims in the Mattapan massacre were marched up Woolson Street and shot after three gunmen robbed Martin, a drug dealer, of crack cocaine and cash.
The verdicts came less than an hour after the jury told Judge Jeffrey Locke that they were deadlocked 11 to 1, stirring anxiety among prosecutors and police that they would have to retry the case again. A previous jury deadlocked 11 to 1 to convict Moore in March, during his first trial on the charges, and acquitted his codefendant, Edward Washington.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis watched the verdict on television from his office at headquarters, surrounded by members of his staff and the head of the division that oversees homicide, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Buckley. As the verdicts were read, Davis and his staff clapped Buckley on the back and shook his hand.
“It’s a relief,” Davis said. “It really is a relief. . . . It will bring justice to the family, and that’s all we can hope for.”
Patricia Washum-Bennett, mother of Washum-Garrison, quickly left the courtroom after the verdicts, clutching tissues.
“I’m just happy,” she said. “Now they can rest.”
In the last couple of weeks, Boston police had sent more patrols to keep an eye on Woolson Street, where people were outraged last March after Washington’s acquittal. Monday night, residents were calm, but relieved.
“It’s a good verdict,” said Winston Jarvis, 54, who has lived on Woolson Street for 15 years. “I think it’s long overdue. . . . It’s just a good day, I guess a good day for justice.”
The jury, in delivering Monday’s split verdict, acquitted Moore in the attempted murder of Marcus Hurd, who was shot in the back of the head but survived. The panel also acquitted Moore of unlawful possession of a firearm, and aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he could not speculate on the reasons behind the split verdict, but said he was “very satisfied.” Conley’s press office sent a statement to reporters with a subject line that read: “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!”
In Massachusetts, the minimum sentence for a first-degree murder conviction is life in prison.
Moore “is a dangerous, dangerous man,” Conley said. “We’re very fortunate the jury reached this verdict today. Boston is a safer place.”
Moore’s lawyer, John Amabile, shook his client’s hand after the verdict was read and said he would appeal the verdict. The normally gregarious Amabile was brief in remarks before news cameras outside the courtroom.
“Dwayne Moore has vociferously denied any involvement in the crime,” he said. “I’m deeply disappointed in the decision of the jury.”
Moore’s mother, Diann, was not in court Monday. Reached by phone, she said she could not speak because she needed to get dressed and see her son, who was being held at the Nashua Street jail.
While the verdicts were read, some of the jurors looked over at Moore. They had spent two months on the case, bused in every day from Worcester County and escorted by state troopers to Suffolk Superior Court. The five men and seven women were picked from Worcester County after Amabile successfully argued that news coverage of the case would make it difficult to find an impartial jury in the Boston area.
Jurors left the courthouse in a single file Monday, stone-faced and silent, some clutching umbrellas. They did not speak to reporters as they walked to the bus, where two state troopers waited.
Deliberations had appeared arduous. Twice, the jury was forced to begin deliberating anew, once after a juror was excused for discussing ballistics evidence that had not been introduced at trial and again after another juror was excused when his brother suffered a stroke.
During the retrial, Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin played statements that Moore made to police during two interviews in the weeks following the September 2010 killings.
Moore was inconsistent, telling police at first that he was nowhere near the murder scene. In his second interview, he told detectives he was there, standing on the porch of Martin’s house, but that he left before anyone was shot.
Conley said he believed those conflicting statements, which were not introduced during the first trial, might have helped persuade jurors uncertain about Moore’s guilt.
There was no physical evidence tying Moore to the crimes. Neither his fingerprints nor his DNA were found on one of the guns recovered or the safe that was stolen from Martin’s house.
As in the first trial, prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of Kimani Washington, a 37-year-old career criminal who admitted to playing a role in the armed robbery, but said he left before the shootings took place. He testified against Moore in exchange for a recommendation of a sentence of 16 to 18 years on armed robbery charges. Amabile argued that Kimani Washington lied about leaving the scene before the shootings, suggesting that he had killed the victims.
Despite Amabile’s attack on Kimani Washington, Conley said it was clear the jury believed the witness, who accused Moore of acting as the triggerman. The jury also convicted Moore of home invasion and armed robbery.
But the acquittal on the gun charges and the charges that he assaulted Hurd could suggest the jury did not believe Moore held the murder weapon.
During deliberations last week, the jury asked Locke for an explanation of “joint venture,” the legal concept that states a person can be convicted of murder even if he or she did not commit the killing. The defendant would have to share the “mental state” of the killer and have been an active participant in the crime, Locke explained.
Prosecutors had argued that Moore called Martin on his cellphone to lure him out of his house. They presented phone records that showed Moore called Martin that night, and also called Kimani Washington.
Michael Doolin, a Dorchester criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, said that the split verdict indicates that the jury may not have felt prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Moore fired the weapon that killed the victims.
Still, for the defense, that is a “hollow victory,” Doolin said.
If Moore succeeds in winning a new trial, the prosecution could still present the same case, that he orchestrated the robbery, then killed the victims himself.
“The defense’s case would not be improved on a retrial,” Doolin said.