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Commonwealth v. Lee

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

May 15, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BRIAN LEE. [1]

          Heard: January 9, 2018.

         Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on January 23, 2007.

         The case was tried before John C. Cratsley, J.

          Elizabeth A. Billowitz for the defendant.

          Julianne Campbell, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.

          CYPHER, JUDGE.

         The defendant, Brian Lee, appeals from his conviction of murder in the first degree. We affirm.

         Background.

         The victim was the defendant's father. Ruth Collins and her daughter, Caron Collins, had known the defendant for several years at the time of the homicide.[2] The defendant was friendly with Caron and had done housework for Ruth. On October 28, 2006, Ruth saw the defendant walk behind her house carrying white garbage bags. Soon after, the defendant left without any garbage bags. Ruth and Caron checked the backyard for the garbage bags. They found white garbage bags in a compost bin, and inside one of the garbage bags, they found a human head. When police arrived, officers found two arms and two legs in the other garbage bags.

         Ruth reported that she had seen the defendant carrying white garbage bags behind her house. Police officers learned that the defendant's father had sought an abuse prevention order against him three days earlier.[3] Officers went to the defendant's father's house to check on his safety. In the house, officers found white garbage bags and a human torso in a plastic tub. A fingerprint on the tub was later identified as the defendant's.

         That same day, the defendant spoke with the police. He told detectives that he had dismembered his father but not killed him. The defendant also told police that he had thrown away his father's mattress, sheets, and blanket because they were covered in blood. The medical examiner testified that multiple blows to the head caused the victim's death. The defendant's medical expert testified that the victim's death was a homicide.

         At trial, the defendant represented himself[4] and conferred with standby counsel. His theory of his defense was that the Commonwealth did not meet its burden of proof, the police and medical examiner altered evidence, and the victim was not the defendant's father.

         D ...


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