The case against the man convicted of killing four people — including a 2-year-old boy — on a Mattapan street in 2010 rested largely on the word of a drug dealer, whose credibility was so questionable prosecutors relied heavily on cellphone records to buttress his version of events.
Now lawyers for Dwayne Moore, who was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the cold-blooded killings, are asserting that new cellphone records, along with a closer examination of those presented at trial, indicate that the prosecution’s star witness, Kimani Washington, lied to the jury and suggest that Moore was not even on Woolson Street at the time of the murders.
“This case is a classic example of the danger in building a first-degree murder case on the credibility of a professional criminal,” Moore’s lawyers, Chauncey B. Wood and Eva G. Jellison, wrote in an 87-page motion that seeks a new trial for Moore and lists myriad pieces of evidence they say point to his innocence.
Chief among them are: two inmates who met Washington in jail after the killings and said he told them he lied about Moore’s role in the crime, cellphone records that purportedly show one of the victims received a call from Moore at the same time Moore was believed to be robbing him, and newly revealed evidence Moore’s lawyers say strongly suggests Washington was part of a dangerous Dorchester gang, notorious for robbing drug dealers at gunpoint.
“It becomes overwhelmingly clear that justice was not done,” the lawyers wrote.
The appeal revisits the disputed circumstances of the killings, sets forth a new theory of the crime, and asserts that the same phone records that helped convict Moore now cast doubt on his guilt.
“It was a very painful case for the city of Boston,” said Michael Doolin, a Dorchester criminal defense attorney who watched the trials closely. “But the litigation isn’t done once there is a guilty verdict that gets rendered. The defendant’s rights are paramount in that things often come out after trial that were not known at the time that may show justice wasn’t done.”
The killings of Simba Martin, 21; Levaughn Washum-Garrison, 22; Martin’s girlfriend, Eyanna Flonnery, 21; and her 2-year-old son, Amanihotep Smith, came to be known as the Mattapan massacre and constitute one of the most violent crimes in the city’s recent history. The victims were marched up Woolson Street and shot after three gunmen robbed Martin, a drug dealer, of crack cocaine and cash. Before they were shot, the men were ordered to strip. The child, who survived for about four hours, was found in his mother’s arms.
The sole survivor of the shooting, a man named Marcus Hurd who had shown up that night to buy marijuana from Martin, was left paralyzed from the neck down.
Two men were accused of the killings, Moore and Edward Washington, Kimani Washington’s cousin. In 2012, a jury acquitted Edward Washington and deadlocked on the charges against Moore, drawing outrage from the victims’ families.
At his second trial later that year, Moore was convicted of felony murder and armed home invasion and robbery.
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke, who presided over Moore’s second trial, must now decide whether to grant him a new one. Either way, the case will probably be taken to the Supreme Judicial Court.
Prosecutors have until June 18 to file their response to the defense motion, which followed six days of evidentiary hearings before Locke in February and April.
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors have no doubt Moore is responsible for the killings.
“The entire [defense] motion is built on a tortured interpretation of the evidence and testimony,” Wark said. “We fully expect it will be denied.”
Moore told police after the killing that he went to Martin’s house that night but left when he heard yelling inside, Wark noted.
“Witnesses testified that the defendant knew there were drugs in the house and planned to commit a robbery there,” Wark said. Hurd, the sole survivor of the shooting, and neighbors who looked outside after the shots were fired described the gunman as slim and tall with close-cropped hair, a description that matched Moore, Wark said.
“None of the motion’s contortions of logic can overcome facts like those,” Wark said.
Moore’s lawyers declined to comment.
Kimani Washington, then a 37-year-old career criminal who participated in the robbery but said he left before the shootings took place, testified against Moore in exchange for a 16- to 18-year sentence recommendation from prosecutors. Moore’s lawyer, John Amabile, argued at trial that Kimani Washington lied about leaving the scene and suggested he had killed the victims.
Neither Moore’s fingerprints nor his DNA were found on the guns recovered or the safe that was stolen from Martin’s house, around the corner from the shooting.
Prosecutors had argued that Moore called Martin, his former housemate, to lure him out of his house so he, Kimani Washington, and Edward Washington could rob him. Prosecutors presented phone records that showed Moore was the last person to call Martin before the killings.
But in their appeal, Moore’s lawyers say Moore called Martin at 12:52 a.m., when the robbery was well underway. Moore also sent a woman a text at 12:51 a.m. asking if he could meet her.
“It is simply inconceivable that Moore would have been setting up a late-night rendezvous with a friend just as he was supposedly about to invade the home of a drug dealer with multiple armed accomplices,” the lawyers wrote.
Moore’s lawyers also faulted Amabile for not highlighting the cellphone evidence suggesting Moore was not at the scene. Amabile declined to comment.
In a court filing, prosecutors countered that the appeal’s timeline is flawed because no witness was ever able to say precisely when the robbery began.
Prosecutors said Moore went after Martin because he was angry that he had been thrown out of Martin’s house earlier that summer. But Moore’s lawyers contend that the killings were retaliation for Martin teaming with two other men three days earlier to rip off drug dealers who were members of a gang called the Columbia Point Dawgs. They say that new evidence strongly suggests that Kimani Washington also belonged to the gang.
They say that internal police reports show detectives knew Kimani Washington had ties to the gang and failed to tell the defense about it.
John Cunha, Edward Washington’s lawyer during the 2012 trial, said evidence suggesting Washington was in a gang would have distanced both defendants from the killings and helped show Washington was lying to protect the actual culprits: members of his own gang.
“The fact that Dwayne [Moore] and Eddie [Washington] weren’t Columbia Point Dawgs could be important to a jury,” Cunha said. “If you’re in a gang, you commit a crime with gang members. You don’t recruit your cousin and some schlemiel you met someplace.”
Prosecutors said there is no conclusive evidence Washington was in the gang and said Moore “fell well short of providing any evidence to support his further claim that Kimani planned and orchestrated this armed robbery, home invasion, and murders on behalf of the gang,” Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin wrote in a court filing.
During the hearings before Locke in February and April, two men who met Washington in Plymouth County jail testified that he bragged about implicating the wrong man.
The “testimony provides further evidence that Kimani lied about Moore’s participation to save himself from a life sentence,” the lawyers wrote.
Wark said that argument is ironic.
“The motion warns against building a case on the credibility of a professional criminal,” Wark said. “Yet it does precisely that, crediting two jailhouse informants with absolutely no corroboration . . . to help Dwayne Moore or hurt Kimani Washington.”Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeMCramer.