After snags in jury selection, trial is still pending for 2 teens charged in 16-year-old’s killing
The teens suspected of killing Jonathan Dos Santos were arrested just three days after Dos Santos, 16, was shot in an ambush while riding his bike in Dorchester on a summer day. But three years later, the suspects, Raeshawn Moody and Du’Shawn Taylor-Gennis, have yet to go on trial, in part because of procedural snags that have led to two juries being dismissed.
Their trial had been scheduled to begin July 16; a new date won’t be set until next month, according to Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.
In July, lawyers had selected 16 jurors and the trial was set to go forward. But according to Wark, the jury was discharged because a person in the courtroom gallery took photos during jury selection. The nature of the photographs is still under investigation and no charges have been filed, Wark said.
The public is not allowed to take pictures or make video recordings inside the court, according to Massachusetts Trial Court policy. Security in the courtroom was ramped up after that to prevent future incidents, Wark said.
On Aug. 1, the court considered nine new potential jurors, on the way to seating a new jury of 16.
Moody’s defense counsel filed a late motion to suppress phone records, a motion that would take at least a week to argue and decide, Wark said. So instead of making potential jurors wait for the decision, Judge Rosalind H. Miller discharged them and set a date to reschedule the trial.
“In recent memory, it’s unusual,” Wark said of the jury dismissals. “It’s also immensely frustrating for the [Dos Santos] family; they’ve been waiting three years for this.”
The next court proceeding is a trial assignment conference scheduled for Sept. 11, which is when the trial date will be decided and a judge selected, Wark said.
R. Michael Cassidy, a criminal law professor at Boston College Law School, said the fact the judge requested 16 jurors rather than 14 (12 jurors with two alternates) shows how significant the case is.
“It’s very common for a judge to sit 16, especially if it’s going to be a long case,” Cassidy said. “That way there’s four jurors you can excuse. It gives you a bigger cushion and leaves room for error.”
Judges sometimes discharge individual jurors so that a trial can continue on schedule, Cassidy said. But to see two juries discharged in such a high-profile criminal case isn’t typical, he said.
“It’s fairly uncommon to excuse an entire jury; to excuse a jury twice is very uncommon,” Cassidy said.
“It’s a huge consumption of time and resources because it can take a day or two of court time to sit a jury and it can take 100 or 150 potential jurors to come down to 16 available jurors.”
Moody and Taylor-Gennis are accused of shooting Dos Santos as he rode his bike to his aunt’s house. He was killed at Fuller and Washington streets, blocks from his parents’ home, prosecutors said.
The shooting was captured by a store’s surveillance camera. Boston police enlisted the help of the mothers of Moody and Taylor-Gennis, and the suspects’ mothers turned them in to police. Moody was 14 and Taylor-Gennis was 16 at the time of the killing.They are being tried as adults.
Michael Doolin, defense lawyer for Taylor-Gennis, did not respond to a request for comment. John Cunha, who represents Moody, said he had no comment.