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Commonwealth v. Williams

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Plymouth

May 12, 2016

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ANTONIO WILLIAMS.

Heard: Date November 17, 2015.

Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 26, 2010, and April 22, 2011.

Motions to withdraw guilty pleas, filed on June 3, 2013, and January 30, 2014, were heard by Paul A. Chernoff, J., Special Judicial Magistrate, and an order affirming the proposed order of the Special Judicial Magistrate was entered by Frank M. Gaziano, J.

Jason Howard for the defendant.

Laurie Yeshulas, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Present: Cypher, Trainor, & Rubin, JJ.

CYPHER, J.

The defendant, Antonio Williams, appeals from the denial of his motions to withdraw his guilty pleas pursuant to Mass.R.Crim.P. 30(b), as appearing in 435 Mass. 1501 (2001). The offenses were set forth in two sets of indictments that charged unrelated gun and drug crimes. The defendant argues that because the guilty pleas were based, in part, on drug tests performed by Annie Dookhan at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute (Hinton laboratory), the subsequent discovery of Dookhan's pervasive wrongdoing requires the reversal of the convictions.[1]

The first set of indictments (the gun case) arose after the police responded to a report of domestic violence at the home of the defendant's girl friend on April 14, 2010. Upon their arrival, the police were informed by the girl friend that the defendant had threatened her. While there, police also saw loose ammunition and a loaded firearm, both of which the defendant admitted were his. The defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm (G. L. c. 269, § 10 [a.]); unlawful possession of a loaded firearm (G. L. c. 269, § 10[n]); unlawful possession of ammunition without an FID card (G. L. c. 269, § 10[h]); and threat to commit a crime (G. L. c. 275, § 2). The first indictment, charging unlawful possession of a firearm, also alleged that the defendant previously had been convicted of three predicate offenses, namely, armed masked robbery as a juvenile, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and "crack" cocaine on June 21, 2006 (No. 0615CR4295) (the 2006 drug charges), and possession with intent to distribute a class B substance on July 29, 2007 (No. 0715CR005623) (the 2007 drug charges), [2] thus subjecting him to enhanced sentencing as an armed career criminal under G. L. c. 269, § 10G(c) (the ACC offense).

On March 4, 2011, while the defendant was out on bail on the gun charges, the police executed a search warrant in the third-floor apartment in Brockton where he was living with his mother, her boy friend, and his younger brothers. During the search, police found what they believed to be cocaine residue in an area in the defendant's bedroom that suggested drugs were being prepared for packaging and sale. They also found fifteen bags of suspected marijuana and nineteen bags of suspected crack cocaine, as well as a scale, gloves, bags, scissors, and numerous plastic bags in the bedroom. On a tray in the kitchen, police found nine twisted bags of what are alleged to be Oxycontin pills as well as suspected crack cocaine. According to the police report, the defendant said that if the weight of the purported crack cocaine in combination with the substance found in his bedroom "was less than trafficking weight then he would admit the crack cocaine and the pills in the kitchen were his." The house was within 1, 000 feet of a public school.

As a result of the search, a second set of indictments was returned (the drug case) charging the defendant with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, second or subsequent offense, G. L. c. 94C, § 32A(cJ and (d); possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute, second or subsequent offense, G. L. c. 94C, § 32A(cJ and (d); and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, second or subsequent offense, G. L. c. 94C, § 32C. Each indictment included a count charging that the defendant had committed that particular offense in a school zone, G. L. c. 94C, § 32J. The second or subsequent offense portion of each indictment identified the defendant's convictions on the 2006 drug charges as the prior offense.

A plea hearing was held on January 26, 2012. At the outset of the hearing, the prosecutor explained that she was willing to reduce the ACC offense from a "level III" (three predicate offenses) to a "level II" (two predicate offenses), thereby reducing the defendant's exposure from a minimum mandatory sentence of fifteen years and a maximum sentence of twenty years to a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years and a maximum sentence of fifteen years. See G. L. c. 269, § 10G(b) and (c0 . She further indicated that she would seek a ten- to twelve-year aggregate sentence on the level II ACC offense and the related charges and an additional aggregate sentence of no more than ten years on the drug counts. The prosecutor sought consecutive sentences because the defendant had committed the drug offenses while he was out on bail on the gun charges. See G. L. c. 279, § 8B.[3] For his part, the defendant requested concurrent sentences and a reduction in the prosecutor's offer of ten to twelve years on the level II ACC offense to ten years.

Upon inquiry from the judge, the prosecutor confirmed that, in the event the judge intended to impose concurrent rather than consecutive sentences, she would nonetheless maintain her offer to reduce the ACC charge to a level II offense and would not increase the ten- to twelve-year sentence recommendation. Against this backdrop, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charges with the ACC charge reduced to a level II offense.

The prosecutor recited the facts of both cases including that testing had confirmed the nature of the substances underlying the drug case. Certificates of analysis showed that the contraband had been analyzed at the Hinton laboratory by Annie Dookhan, who had signed the certificates of analysis as either the primary analyst or the sole analyst. At the conclusion of the plea hearing, the judge accepted the pleas and sentenced the defendant to an aggregate sentence of not less than ten nor more than twelve years ...


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