Heard: October 7, 2016.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on April
motion to dismiss was heard by Peter M. Lauriat, J.
Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct
Sachse, Assistant District Attorney (Mark A. Hallal &
Montez D. Haywood, Assistant District Attorneys, also
present) for the Commonwealth.
Benjamin L. Falkner for the defendant.
Present: Gants, C.J., Botsford, Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy,
& Budd, JJ.
Soto, a juvenile, was indicted in the Superior Court for
murder in the first degree and for related offenses under G.
L. c. 119, § 74. A judge in the Superior Court dismissed
the nonmurder indictments, ruling that the nonmurder charges
must be brought first in the Juvenile Court by a complaint
for delinquency or a youthful offender indictment prior to
joinder with the murder indictments. The Commonwealth
appealed, and we granted its application for direct appellate
review. We conclude, based on the plain language of G. L. c.
119, § 74, and the overarching statutory scheme
governing the treatment of juveniles charged with a violation
of the criminal law, that when a juvenile is indicted for
murder, nonmurder offenses that are properly joined with the
murder indictment under Mass. R. Crim. P. 9 (a) (1), 378
Mass. 859 (1979), must be brought in the Superior Court.
Therefore, we reverse the order allowing the defendant's
motion to dismiss the nonmurder indictments and remand the
matter to the Superior Court.
November 5, 2014, the defendant and two codefendants were
involved in a shooting that resulted in the death of Ryan
Morrissey and serious injury to James Lawton. In April, 2015,
a Suffolk County grand jury returned five indictments against
the defendant: (1) murder, G. L. c. 265, § 1; (2) armed
assault with the intent to murder, G. L. c. 265, § 18
(b); (3) assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon,
causing serious bodily injury, G. L. c. 265, § 15A (c0
(i); (4) unlawful possession of a firearm, G. L. c. 269,
§ 10 (a.); and (5) unlawful possession of a loaded
firearm, G. L. c. 269, § 10 (n). Because the defendant
was seventeen years old at the time of the shooting, the
Commonwealth brought the indictments in the Superior Court
pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 74.
the arraignment on the murder indictment, the court deferred
arraignment on the nonmurder indictments for reasons that are
not apparent on the record. The Commonwealth filed a motion
for joinder of the nonmurder indictments under Mass. R. Crim.
P. 9 (a) (1). The defendant countered with a motion to
dismiss the nonmurder indictments, arguing that these charges
could be properly joined with the murder indictment only
after being brought first in the Juvenile Court and
transferred to the Superior Court as provided in G. L. c.
211B, § 9 (x)- This statute vests authority in the Chief
Justice of the Trial Court to consolidate cases pending in
different departments of the Trial Court and to assign a
justice of one Trial Court department to sit as a justice in
another Trial Court department. More specifically, the
defendant claimed that the Commonwealth was required to bring
the unlawful possession of a firearm charge as a delinquency
complaint and the remainder of the nonmurder counts as
youthful offender indictments in the Juvenile Court.
nonevidentiary hearing on the motions, the judge denied the
Commonwealth's motion for joinder and granted the
defendant's motion to dismiss. In allowing the
defendant's motion to dismiss, the judge ruled that a
juvenile defendant "is not automatically subject to
indictment, arraignment, trial, or sentencing as an adult on
. . . non-murder charges . . . that he faces by sole reason
that those charges arise from the same circumstances upon
which his murder indictment is based." In addition, the
judge cited to two Superior Court cases in which the
Commonwealth followed the G. L. c. 211B, § 9 (x),
interdepartmental transfer procedure it opposes in this case.
This appeal followed.