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Commonwealth v. Langley

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Norfolk

March 12, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
Corey LANGLEY

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT’s MOTION TO DISMISS

          Peter B. Krupp, Justice

         Defendant Corey Langley is charged with two counts of possession of a substance, material, article, explosive, or ingredient which could be used to make a destructive or incendiary device or substance in violation of G.L. c. 266, § 102(a)(i) (Counts 001 and 002), and two counts of secreting, throwing, launching, or otherwise placing an explosive or incendiary device in violation of G.L. c. 266, § 102A (Counts 003 and 004). Defendant moves to dismiss under Commonwealth v. McCarthy, 385 Mass. 160, 163 (1982), arguing the grand jury heard insufficient evidence to support the indictments. After hearing, [1] for the following reasons, the motion is ALLOWED.

         BACKGROUND

         The grand jury heard the following evidence:

         On January 13, 2017, Holbrook Police Department Detective Scott Glover received a call to the effect that two possible explosive devices were located at 44 Poole Circle in Holbrook (" the Property"). When Det. Glover responded to the scene, he observed in the Property’s backyard near the gate (i) a white bleach bottle with a hole cut into the cap and a pair of underwear on or near the bottle, and (ii) a Crisco bottle filled with nails and batteries, which had a hole cut in its top and a wick coming out of the hole. Det. Glover contacted the State Police Bomb Squad.

         James Morgan, the owner of the Property, told Det. Glover that after midnight on the previous night, he had heard a loud noise in the woods, like something running away, but he did not see anything. Mr. Morgan reported that the next morning, he observed a bleach bottle in the backyard and a Crisco oil bottle and a burned pair of underwear in the wooded area outside the backyard gate to the Property. Mr. Morgan also said that he noticed that the gate had been sprayed with a liquid.

         The State Police responded to the scene, photographed the evidence, and made sure it was safe to remove the two bottles from the area.

         Mr. Morgan told Det. Glover that a number of teenagers were staying in a house on the other side of the wooded area behind the Property, including possibly the defendant; and they were the only people Mr. Morgan believed may have put the objects in his yard.

         Another Holbrook police officer, Officer Sterling, walked back behind the Property until he reached the house Mr. Morgan described. There, he found gas cans in the backyard of the house[2] and a wallet with defendant’s identification in it. Off. Sterling spoke with defendant’s mother, who said defendant had been out the previous night, returning home after 1:45 a.m.

         The Holbrook police questioned defendant at the police station. Defendant admitted he made the bleach and Crisco oil " devices, " but said he had not planned on hurting anyone with them. He said he intended the bleach container to look like a Molotov cocktail, wanted to use it to make a " big boom" in his backyard, and threw it into the backyard of the Property when he got scared. Defendant explained that he wanted to bury the Crisco oil bottle in the snow to " see how it exploded."

         Massachusetts State Police Trooper Eric Desrochers also spoke with defendant. Defendant told him that he threw the bleach bottle over the fence into the Property’s backyard and left the Crisco bottle against the Property’s back gate. Defendant said he knew that the bleach was not flammable, but acted like it was a Molotov cocktail and threw it into the yard. He told Tpr. Desrochers that he did not light the wick; however, the trooper testified that the wick, which was a pair of girl’s underwear and was found next to the bleach bottle, [3] had singes on it. Regarding the liquid on the gate, defendant told Tpr. Desrochers that he had poured the contents of a bleach bottle along the fence. Tpr. Desrochers testified he saw the Crisco oil bottle, with the wick still in it, outside of the gate to the Property’s backyard.

         Liquid was extracted from both containers and submitted to the lab, but the results were not back at the time of the grand jury hearing. Tpr. Desrochers stated he expected the bottles contained just bleach and vegetable oil. In response to grand juror questions, Tpr. Desrochers explained that the Crisco bottle had no explosive capacity, although defendant thought it would burn; and that defendant knew bleach could not burn, but thought that the fumes could burn.

         On March 7, 2017, the grand jury returned two indictments charging violation of G.L. c. 266, § 102(a)(i) (possession), and two indictments charging violation of G.L. c. 266, § 102A (throwing or placing). Defendant moves to dismiss each of the indictments. At argument on December 19, 2017, the Commonwealth conceded that Counts 001 and 002 should be dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence in light of Commonwealth v. Aldana,477 Mass. 790, 797-804 (2017), which was decided after the indictments were returned ...


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