The state’s highest court ruled Tuesday that a Dorchester man may have been too drunk to be convicted of first-degree murder on grounds of extreme cruelty in the stabbing death of his girlfriend after the couple celebrated Valentine’s Day.
In a 5-0 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said the Suffolk Superior Court jury that convicted Mario Gonzalez reached its verdict after being given legally flawed instructions on how much weight they could give to Gonzalez’s alcohol consumption before he killed Luz Forty, his girlfriend.
“The judge did not instruct the jury that they could consider any credible evidence of the defendant’s consumption of alcohol in determining whether the defendant committed the killing with extreme atrocity or cruelty,’’ Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote.
The failure of then-Superior Court Judge Geraldine S. Hines to link Gonzalez’s alcohol consumption to its impact on Gonzalez’s state of mind means the first-degree murder verdict cannot stand, Gants wrote.
(Hines joined the Supreme Judicial Court last month and was not part of the SJC proceedings.)
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