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Commonwealth v. Goddard

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester

February 9, 2017

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WILLIAM GODDARD.

          Heard: October 11, 2016.

         Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on June 5, 2008.

         The cases were tried before Richard T. Tucker, J.

          Robert S. Sinsheimer for the defendant.

          Ellyn H. Lazar-Moore, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.

          LOWY, J.

         The jury convicted the defendant, William Goddard, of murder in the first degree on the theory of deliberate premeditation.[1] On appeal, the defendant argues that (1) the trial judge erred by permitting the Commonwealth's expert witness to testify that the defendant had premeditated the killing, (2) the same expert was impermissibly permitted to state the basis of her opinion on direct examination, and (3) the prosecutor made statements not supported by evidence during closing arguments. We affirm the convictions and decline to grant relief under G. L. c. 278, § 33E.

         1. Background.

         We summarize the facts the jury could have found and reserve other details for discussion of specific issues. On the morning of January 28, 2008, the defendant shot and killed his former girl friend (victim). The victim and the defendant met in October, 2005, developed a romantic relationship, and began living together. By August, 2007, their relationship began to deteriorate, partly because the defendant suspected the victim was having an affair with her boss. In October, 2007, the relationship between the victim and the defendant ended when she kicked him out of the house. The defendant did not take the break up well.

         On the morning of the murder, the defendant arrived in his automobile at the automotive shop where the victim worked. The defendant forced an employee at gunpoint to bring him to the office that the victim shared with her boss.

         Upon entering the office, the defendant said to the victim, "[S]hut up. Don't move. Shut up. Don't move." The victim responded, "Bill, what are you doing?" The defendant then shot the victim a single time in the neck, killing her in a matter of minutes. The defendant also shot the boss in the left arm; he lay on the ground to "play[] dead." The defendant then attempted to fire the gun a third time, in an unspecified direction, but his weapon misfired.

         Upon hearing the misfire, the employee who had taken the defendant to the office ran out of the room. The defendant fired several more times in his direction and in the direction of three other employees, who were hiding behind a forklift outside the office. The fleeing employee was able to get outside, but he slipped on a patch of ice and fell. While he was on the ground, the defendant caught up to him and again tried to shoot him, but again, the defendant was unable to fire the gun. The defendant told the man, "You better run."

         The defendant then fled the scene in his vehicle. Minutes later, a Webster police officer stopped the defendant for speeding in a construction zone less than one mile from the shop. The defendant held the steering wheel and stared straight ahead while the officer reprimanded him, only saying, "Sorry, Officer." ...


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