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Commonwealth v. Green

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Barnstable

September 27, 2017

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DARRYL S. GREEN.

          Heard: May 3, 2017.

         Corroborative evidence. Practice, Criminal, Admissions and confessions, Sentence. Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on June 12, 2015.

         The case was heard by Robert C. Rufo, J.

          Eric W. Ruben for the defendant.

          Elizabeth A. Sweeney, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Green, Wolohojian, Massing, Shin, & Ditkoff, JJ.

          DITKOFF, J.

         The defendant appeals after his conviction at a jury-waived trial of stealing in a building, G. L. c. 266, § 20, arising out of his theft of $240 from the home of his recently murdered neighbors. This case requires us to consider the nature of the corroboration required to support a conviction based on a defendant's confession and to discern the dividing line between property stolen from a building and property stolen from the custody of a person in the building. Concluding that the confession was adequately corroborated and that the evidence made out the crime of stealing in a building, we affirm.[1]

         1. Background.

         Sometime between the evening of June 11, 2013, and the early morning of June 12, 2013, Crystal Perry and Kristofer Williams were murdered in their home in Falmouth by persons unknown. At approximately 1:30 A.M. on June 12, police found their bodies in the kitchen and living room, surrounded by blood. The front door had been forced open and "[t]he house . . . had been . . . ransacked, " but jewelry and a wallet remained in the house. The defendant was a neighbor of the victims and suffered from a heroin addiction.

         The defendant had been working as a mason's assistant for approximately two and one-half years. His boss paid him in cash at the end of each day, and the defendant "never had cash the next day." When the defendant's boss picked up the defendant the morning of June 12, the defendant showed him cash and said, "Let's go get this, " meaning that they should purchase heroin together. It was more money than the defendant had been paid the day before. The defendant and his boss then purchased $200 to $300 of heroin. The defendant's boss also noticed that the defendant was wearing rubber boots that day, as opposed to the work boots he had worn every other day.

         The next day, and again four days after that, State police troopers interviewed the defendant. The defendant stated that he went into the victims' home "looking for drugs" and noticed that the house had been "ransacked." He found $100 on the floor near the entrance, and he took it. After going through Perry's wallet and checking at least some of both victims' pockets, [2] he went into a bedroom. There, the defendant found another $140 on the bed. The defendant took this money as well and spent all of the money on drugs. The defendant adamantly denied taking any jewelry.

         2. Discussion.

         a. Corroboration ...


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