Heard: April 6, 2018.
Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court
Department on June 22, 2010. The cases were tried before
Constance M. Sweeney, J., and a motion for a new trial, filed
on April 7, 2015, was heard by her.
Theodore F. Riordan (Deborah Bates Riordan also present) for
Bethany C. Lynch, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Kafker, JJ.
after 10 P.M. on July 29, 2009, six month old Naiden Goitia
(child) was pronounced dead at a hospital in Holyoke. The
defendant, Edwin Goitia, was indicted for his murder. A jury
in the Superior Court convicted the defendant of murder in
the first degree on the theory of extreme atrocity or
cruelty. The defendant appeals from his conviction
and from the denial of his motion for a new trial.
defendant's arguments in his direct appeal are nearly
identical to those he asserted in his motion for a new trial.
He argues that defense counsel rendered ineffective
assistance at trial by failing to impeach the credibility of
the child's mother adequately, including that she also
had been indicted for the child's murder, and that she
was testifying pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the
Commonwealth. The defendant also claims that his right
to due process was violated by the Commonwealth's failure
to disclose that it allegedly agreed to dismiss criminal
charges against the mother's father and step mother in
exchange for the mother's cooperation; that the
Commonwealth failed to produce certain photographs and a
video recording; that evidence of injuries the child
sustained in February, 2009, was admitted improperly and that
a limiting instruction should have been given; and that the
prosecutor improperly vouched for the credibility of the
child's mother in her closing argument. We discern no
reversible error, and decline to exercise our authority under
G. L. c. 278, § 33E, to reduce the degree of guilt or
order a new trial. Accordingly, we affirm the defendant's
conviction of murder in the first degree and affirm the
denial of the motion for a new trial.
summarize the facts as the jury could have found them,
reserving certain details for later discussion. See
Commonwealth v. Mendez, 476 Mass. 512, 513 (2017).
mother and the defendant were involved in a relationship, and
she became pregnant. Although she briefly stayed with the
defendant, in approximately November, 2008, the mother moved
into a third-floor apartment with another woman (roommate).
The defendant came by the apartment "sometimes."
After the child was born in January, 2009, the defendant was
an infrequent visitor to the apartment.
February, the child was hospitalized with bruises and other
injuries on his body. The child was taken from the
mother's custody by the Department of Children and
Families (department) and ultimately placed in the custody of
the maternal grandfather. After the mother completed
parenting classes, she was allowed daily unsupervised visits
with the child. In June, 2009, she took the child to live
with her without informing the department.
the one to two months before the child's death, the
roommate, and a neighbor who lived in the building, saw the
child almost every day. The neighbor became "fast
friends" with the mother, and she babysat for the child
several times. The child was a good, loving, happy, smiling,
"bubbly" baby boy, who laughed a lot. When the
defendant visited, however, the child screamed, cried, was
"shaking and red, like he had been crying," and his
lips would quiver.
day he died, several witnesses testified that the six month
old behaved like "his normal self, happy and
playful." After being given his dinner at the
neighbor's apartment, he, his mother, and the neighbor
and her children went to a nearby store for ice cream, where
he interacted with the store employee, who testified that the
child was normal in every respect, and smiled.
group returned to the apartment building between 6 and 6:45
P..M., they met the defendant, who told the mother that he
wanted to walk with her to a local liquor store to get
something for them to drink that night. He wanted to leave on
the walk soon, but wanted to put the child to bed first. He
declined to take the child along on the walk. Even though it
was "really hot" outside, the defendant refused
multiple offers of a ride, saying, "I want to walk with
[the mother]." Although the neighbor offered to babysit
the child in her apartment, the defendant refused, saying,
"We will do the [baby] monitor like last time."
defendant carried the child upstairs to the mother's
apartment, while the mother remained downstairs; the roommate
was not at home. After about five minutes, the mother went
upstairs to retrieve something, returning within two minutes.
Meanwhile, the roommate returned home, and she also went
upstairs while the defendant was there, staying just long
enough to get some clothes. She saw the defendant standing in
the living room, holding the child so that his head was on
the defendant's shoulder, with a blanket covering all but
his legs, which were "hanging out," or
"dangling." She moved to touch the child, but the
defendant turned away without her being able to see the
child's face. The defendant then walked into the
mother's room and closed the door.
one minute of returning downstairs, the roommate went back to
the apartment to retrieve her forgotten keys. The
mother's bedroom door was still closed. Shortly after the
roommate left, the defendant came downstairs. He reported
that the child had not cried, was sleeping, and that he was
"knocked out." When asked for the keys to the
mother's apartment so that the door could be locked, the
defendant went upstairs by himself, and returned "very
quickly." He asked to use the neighbor's bathroom,
and then he and the mother left for the liquor store. He
never gave the neighbor the keys to the mother's
apartment so that she could check on the child.
approximately 7:30 P..M., the mother and the defendant
arrived at the liquor store. While the mother chatted with
the store employee, the defendant remained standing, three or
four feet behind her, by the door, standoffish and aloof,
pacing and glaring, as if he were ready to leave.
the defendant and the mother were away, the neighbor sat in
the hallway of her apartment, where she could hear if the
child made any sound; she heard nothing. Eventually, the
mother appeared at the neighbor's apartment, reporting
that she and the defendant had returned. A short while later,
between 8 and 8:30 P..M., the neighbor went up to the
mother's apartment to return the child's diaper bag
and some toys. When she went inside, the mother and the
defendant were sitting on separate couches in the living
room. The defendant seemed jumpy or antsy, like he could ...