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Man charged in 2018 Dorchester slaying released from prison amid coronavirus concerns

A man charged with second degree murder for a fatal 2018 Dorchester stabbing was released Tuesday by a Suffolk Superior Court judge — over the objections of prosecutors — and ordered to wear an ankle monitor, according to attorneys.

William Jason Utley, 40, sought release because he has been receiving chemotherapy for chronic myeloid leukemia since October 2017, a condition that that makes him especially vulnerable to the virus, according to court documents and a statement from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency.

“COVID-19 is particularly dangerous to people with pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, and is even more dangerous to people with compromised immune system due to cancer treatment,” Utley’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.

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Judge Christine Roach ordered that Utley remain under strict home confinement during his release, the committee said.

The coronavirus has become a pandemic and sickened many in jails and prisons. Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who has made criminal justice reform a cornerstone of her administration, voiced support for the release of some vulnerable inmates and pretrial detainees to the state Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday, but her office fought Utley’s release.

“We believed that the defendant’s medical issues did not outweigh the public safety concerns we had regarding his release,” Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Rollins, said in an e-mail to the Globe. “Judge Roach disagreed and now he is out with a GPS monitor.”

Utley’s attorney, Michael Tumposky, said via text message that his client “is very thankful” that Roach saw fit to release him from custody.

“He is also very grateful to Alex Welsh from [the Committee for Public Counsel Services] who took the lead on the motion for release,” Tumposky wrote.

Utley is accused of killing 33-year-old Anthony Young in Uphams Corner early in the morning of March 25, 2018, and was set to face trial later this year. Young was found suffering from stab wounds on Cushing Avenue around 3 a.m. and was taken to a local hospital, where he later died, police said at the time.

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In a court filing, Tumposky argued that the evidence Utley stabbed his friend is weak. “No forensics link him to the crime, the murder weapon was never found, there is no motive, and there are no witnesses,” Tumposky wrote.

The prosecution’s case, Tumposky wrote, is based only on tracking from a previous GPS bracelet that placed Utley in the area of the stabbing and on “statements attributed to him by a mutual friend of the defendant and victim which are essentially ‘it was not supposed to happen like that.’ ”

Correction: Due to reporting errors, an earlier version of this story misattributed facts about Utley’s argument and the means by which the hearing was held to the Suffolk district attorney’s spokesman.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.