Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Barnstable
Heard: April 6, 2018.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March
cases were tried before Gary A. Nickerson, J.
Alan Curhan (Christie L. Nader also present) for the
Elizabeth A. Sweeney, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Kafker, JJ.
afternoon of July 11, 2012, Andrew Stanley was shot and
killed at his home during an armed robbery and home invasion
involving the defendant and three coventurers. The defendant,
Steven M. Webster, was convicted of murder in the first
degree on a theory of felony-murder, home invasion, armed
assault in a dwelling, armed robbery,  and carrying a
firearm without a license. The defendant asserts that the judge
erred by denying his motion for a required finding of not
guilty and by admitting certain evidence at trial. The
defendant asserts further that the judge should have
instructed the jury on consciousness of guilt evidence sua
sponte, and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to
request such an instruction. We affirm the defendant's
convictions and decline to grant extraordinary relief
pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 33E.
summarize the facts as the jury could have found them,
reserving certain details for discussion of specific issues.
approximately 1:20 P.M. on July 11, 2012, police responded to
reports of shots fired at a home in Hyannis. Police officers
heard moaning and yelling coming from the house; one of them
saw an individual he recognized as Keiko Thomas looking out a
window. The officers heard gunfire. Three men were seen
fleeing from the house and jumping over an adjacent fence; an
officer recognized one of the fleeing men as Eddie Mack.
Officers pursued the men on foot and apprehended Thomas and
another individual, David Evans. The police also apprehended
Mack, who was hiding behind an air conditioning unit outside
a nearby store. In the meantime, a witness saw a fourth man
who had run back toward the house; this man was not
the home, police found the victim lying unresponsive on the
living room floor. His hands and feet were bound with
handcuffs, duct tape, and zip ties. He had numerous
abrasions, injuries from blunt force trauma, and marks on his
body consistent with the use of a stun gun. The cause of
death was a single gunshot wound to the torso.
recovered several items near the area where they had
apprehended Mack. Marijuana was inside the air conditioning
unit, and $14, 300 in cash and two cellular telephones (cell
phones) were underneath a pallet next to the unit. They also
found two cell phones in a nearby alleyway. Three of the cell
phones belonged to the victim, Mack, and Thomas. In the
parking lot next to the house, police located a backpack
containing the following: two firearms, one of which was a
loaded .45 caliber Colt handgun; gloves; a roll of duct tape
consistent with the duct tape used to bind the victim; a stun
gun; an aerosol can; zip ties; and a black face mask, which
had the defendant's deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) on it.
discovered a spent shell casing that had been fired from the
Colt handgun. The bullet retrieved from the victim's body
was consistent with having come from that gun. Investigators
found Mack's fingerprint on a crumpled piece of duct tape
and his palm print on the lower part of a window.
executing a search warrant at Thomas's home, located
approximately one mile from the victim's home, police
recovered a roll of duct tape, handcuffs, and one round of
phone records showed that, in the days leading up to the
killing, Mack, Evans, and the defendant were communicating
with one another via calls and text messages. From July 1 to
July 11, the defendant telephoned or sent text messages to
numbers associated with Evans 231 times. On July 3, the
defendant sent a text message to Evans that stated, "Got
some heat lined up," and "Bring dem rollie up, in
the arm rest." On July 7, the defendant sent another
text message to Evans stating, "cuz if you chillen im
bout, I am to go snatch my lil heat by Norfolk and cum
back." On July 9, Evans sent a text message to the
defendant asking, "So, what about mack?" The
defendant responded, "We out their what time was u tryna
head out their?" Evans replied, "We gotta see dude
at nine tho." Evans asked the defendant, "What you
trying to do?" The defendant responded, "stressing
fam." The defendant also communicated with Mack seven
times on July 10 and July 11.
July 7 and 11, there were multiple text messages exchanged
between Mack and Evans and forty-five communications between
Mack and Thomas. On July 8, Mack sent a text message to Evans
saying, "Gotta come down so I can explain it better bro
so we can get better understandin feel me." The day
before the killing, Mack sent another text message to Evans
asking, "Yal good?" Evans responded, "Yup. We
out there tomorrow night cuz . "
site location information (CSLI) evidence placed the
defendant's and Mack's cell phones in the Barnstable
area on July 10 and 11. CSLI evidence further indicated that
both of their cell phones were tracked being moved from
Barnstable toward Boston approximately one hour after the
homicide. At 2:21 P.M., the defendant telephoned Mack, using
a calling feature to block the caller's identification. A
few minutes later, a text message was sent from Evans to
Mack, which stated, "What up bro its [me, i.e., the
defendant] hit me back." At 4 P.M., cell phones
belonging to the defendant and Evans were in the Boston area.
tire impressions found in the dirt and gravel of the backyard
at the scene were consistent with the pattern made by the
tires of a Chevrolet Impala automobile that Evans had rented
a few days prior to the murder. The vehicle was found in
Boston on July 13, approximately one mile from the
defendant's home. The defendant's DNA ...