A Norfolk County Superior Court jury convicted Ryan Bois, 22 on Thursday March 12 of raping and killing his 6-year-old cousin, Joanna Mullin. The jury rejected his attorney’s claim that Bois was insane and “tortured by demons” when he committed the crime. Bois was found guilty on 10 of 13 counts, including two counts of rape and one count each of kidnapping and home invasion as part of the murder. Judge Janet Sanders commented this case has been “the worst” she has seen in her 14 years on the bench. As she is required to under Massachusetts law, Sanders sentenced Bois to two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury convicted Bois after eight hours of deliberation, and followed a dramatic display by Bois earlier in the week, when he claimed he could not enter the courtroom due to emotional distress.
Prosecutors from the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office argued that Bois broke into his grandmother’s house in Weymouth and raped and strangled Joanna Mullin, who was having a sleepover there in August 2007. The prosecution argued Bois broke into the house to steal money, and when Joanna Mullin caught him, he killed the girl to cover it up. Bois then wrapped the girl’s body in a quilt and stole his grandmother’s SUV. Police found the girl’s body inside the SUV after Bois led them on a high-speed chase, and then crashed the vehicle into a taxi in Quincy.
Bois’ defense attorney, Beverly Cannone, argued her client was not legally responsible for killing his cousin because he was mentally ill. It was the only “viable” defense available, but as a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, it was pretty clear to me it wasn’t going to work Under state law, a conviction of first degree murder is automatically appealed to the state Supreme Judicial Court, but I highly doubt this appeal will go anywhere, in terms of being overturned. Like in last summer’s highly publicized case of Commonwealth vs. Entwistle, the prosecution was meticulous in its case here. I don’t see any procedural or substantive flaws of the type or nature that would mandate the SJC reversing this verdict, or ordering a new trial.