The retrial of a man accused of gunning down four people including a 2-year-old boy and his mother is set to begin under what legal experts said is an "uncommon" and "innovative" circumstance.
Jury selection is scheduled to start today for the second trial of Dwayne Moore, the man accused of being the gunman in the Mattapan massacre that left five people shot and four dead in 2010.
But instead of coming from Suffolk County, the jurors will be coming from Worcester County after a judge ruled on a defense attorney's request to change the venue of the trial because of the significant media coverage. Instead of relocating the trial, the judge ruled that jurors would be bussed in daily from Worcester County.
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It's not an unheard of move, legal experts said, but one that is not common.
Bob Bloom, a Boston College Law School professor, called the busing ruling "innovative" and said the judge is trying to balance the need of a fair trial and the concerns of witnesses and victims' family members.
However, the hours of commuting could cause a problem with the jury.
"One of the things I would have a worry about is that the individual jurors are spending more time together, so there's down time and possibility to talk about the case," Bloom said.
Boston criminal defense attorney William D. Kickham said that while the judge is using the "uncommon" method to try and ensure a fair trial, the Worcester County jury pool is still exposed to Boston media coverage.
"Especially in the age of the Internet, it could be argued that jurors in Worcester County are just as exposed to the media attention as jurors in Suffolk County," he said.
Both Bloom and Kickham agreed that they don't see the busing of jurors being as a future issue at appeal if there is a guilty verdict.
Waiting for rulings from the judge
One of the most controversial aspects of the new trial is the memory of a key witness.
Marcus Hurd was one of the five people shot during the home invasion and was the only one to survive. Hurd was shot in the head and is now a paraplegic, but he testified during the first trial and at a recent pretrial hearing.
Hurd originally testified he said he couldn’t identify the men who set upon him. He only gave vague descriptions.
However, Hurd has since told police detectives and a victim-witness advocate that he recognized suspect Dwayne Moore’s “bone structure” and skin color while he testified during the first trial.
A judge has yet to rule on whether Hurd’s new testimony will be allowed in the upcoming trial.
Five people were shot and four were killed in one of the most shocking murders in recent Boston history.
Amanihotep Smith, 2
Eyanna Flonory, 21
Simba Martin, 21
Levaughn Washum-Garrison, 22