The state’s highest court gave Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan a key victory Wednesday in the prosecution of a Wakefield man who is accused of serving as the lookout during the 2010 Christmas jewelry robbery that ended with the slaying of Woburn police Officer John Maguire .
Before he died, Maguire was able to return fire and shoot and kill his attacker, career criminal Dominic Cinelli, 57, who had just robbed the jewelry department at a Kohl’s store during a heavy snowstorm on Dec. 26, 2010.
Middlesex prosecutors had charged Scott Hanright, who was then 19 years old and living in Wakefield, with first-degree murder and 21 other charges relating to his role as the alleged lookout and for actions Cinelli took as he ran from the store, including shooting Maquire, 60.
At the request of Hanright’s defense attorney, Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Billings dismissed five charges and also ruled that prosecutors could only use one legal theory, joint venture, to try to convict Hanright of Maguire’s murder. Hanright was unarmed and not directly involved in the gunfight, officials said.
In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday that Hanright can be prosecuted for first-degree murder under three different legal theories and that there is enough evidence to allow prosecutors to try him on a total of 22 charges.
Writing for the court, Justice Francis X. Spina concluded that a jury, not a judge, should decide Hanright’s fate and whether he is guilty of the charges brought against him.
“We have reviewed the evidence presented to the grand jury and conclude, contrary to the motion judge, that there is sufficient evidence to support the challenged indictments,’’ Spina wrote. “Whether the Commonwealth can sustain its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to joint venture liability for each of the challenged indictments and for murder on the theories of deliberate premeditation or extreme atrocity or cruelty, is one we leave for trial.’’
Maguire was the first Woburn police officer to die in the line of duty.
Cinelli’s role in the robbery and slaying of a police officer led Governor Deval Patrick to replace the Parole Board membership and to set out new rules under which parole can be granted for violent, repeat offenders like Cinelli.
Hanright has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.
The alleged wheelman, Kevin Dingwell, has pleaded not guilty to accessory after the fact to robbery.
Cinelli’s brother, Arthur, is also facing charges for conspiracy to commit masked armed robbery and accessory before the fact to masked armed robbery. Arthur Cinelli, who has also been paroled from state prison in the past, is accused of helping his brother plan the department store robbery.