For anyone who has followed the “Mattapan Murder Trial” in Boston these past few weeks, otherwise known as the “Mattapan Massacre,” here is the first and most important question you need to ask: If you were a juror, would you believe the prosecution’s star witness, Kimani Washington?
For those who haven’t followed the case, a little background: In September 2010, in the Mattapan section of Boston, four people were shot to death and a fifth paralyzed from the neck down for life, in a robbery that involved illegal drugs. Among the dead were a 2 year-old boy and his mother. Police arrested three men in connection with the massacre: Two of them are on trial for the murders – named Dwayne Moore and Edward Washington. The third man involved in the crime, is a man by the name of Kimani Washington; he is a cousin of defendant Edward Washington. By the accounts of all who know him, even by his own account, Kimani Washington is one bad character: A career criminal who has committed crimes ranging from Massachusetts drug offenses, to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, to robbery. The prosecutor himself in this case has characterized him as a gangster, a thug and a thief. A lawyer for one of the defendants has termed Kimani Washington as a psychopath, and a “denizen of hell.”
Oh, one other thing: Kimani Washington is the prosecution’s star witness. You see, it seems that “Kimani” struck a deal with prosecutors, where he agreed to plead guilty to the Massachusetts robbery charge, in exchange for the prosecution not charging him with murder in this case, not trying him on the robbery charge, and recommending to the judge in the case that he serve 16-18 years in prison for the robbery count. (Washington claims he took part in the robbery, but left the scene before the shootings took place.) Oh, and a few other salient facts for you to consider: In addition to the agreement not to charge him with murder, it seems the esteemed Mr. Washington extracted a few other perks to sweeten the deal for himself – including $5,000 in assistance to his mother to relocate her residence to an undisclosed location, so that none of Washington’s enemies can easily find her to retaliate against Washington; an additional promise of assistance to his mother in securing government-subsidized Section 8 housing vouchers, and to top it off, an promise from prosecutors that Washington will serve his time in an out-of-state prison, where no ‘associates’ of his from Boston will be housed, thus securing his safety in prison.
Washington got all of this from prosecutors, in exchange for serving as their star witness against his cousin Edward Washington, and Dwayne Moore. So, the question stands: Would you believe this man’s testimony that he had nothing to do with these shootings and murders?
As a Boston, Massachusetts drug defense lawyer, I understand that there are times when the prosecution must, for strategic reasons, make a deal they’d rather not make, to catch the “bigger fish” in a given case. The world we live in is not perfect, and sometimes, concessions have to be made to achieve the best form of justice that is possible under the circumstances. But our system of criminal law requires that a defendant’s guilt be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. It seems to me that burden has not been met here. Soon, we will all know whether the jurors in this case felt that standard was met by the prosecution.