Heard: September 12, 2018.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March
case was heard by Margaret R. Hinkle, J.; and a motion for a
new trial, filed on January 11, 2016, was heard by Douglas H.
Wilkins, J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered
Belger for the defendant.
Kathryn E. Leary, Assistant District Attorney (John P.
Pappas, Assistant District Attorney, also present) for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Lowy, Budd, & Kafker, JJ.
night of January 31, 2005, members of the Boston fire
department in the Dorchester section of Boston responded to
the sound of banging on their fire house door. Outside the
station was the defendant, Manolo Salazar, covered in blood.
After examining the defendant, firefighters found only a
minor cut on his right hand. Police investigation revealed
the source of the rest of the blood on the defendant's
body: Carlos Cruz, the defendant's roommate, whom police
found dead in their shared apartment.
jury trial, the defendant was convicted of murder in the
first degree on the theory of deliberate
premeditation.He raises several arguments on appeal: (1)
the judge erred in denying his motions for a required finding
of not guilty on the murder charge because the evidence was
insufficient to establish deliberate premeditation; (2) he
should be afforded a new trial because trial counsel was
ineffective in failing to introduce evidence in support of a
defense based on voluntary intoxication; and (3) improper
statements in the prosecutor's closing argument created a
substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of
justice. The defendant also asks us to exercise our
authority under G. L. c. 278, § 33E, to either reduce
his conviction to murder in the second degree or order a new
thoroughly reviewed the defendant's asserted errors and
the record as a whole, we discern no reversible error.
However, given the unique circumstances of this case, we
exercise our authority under G. L. c. 278, § 33E, to
reduce the defendant's verdict to murder in the second
the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, we
recite the facts that the jury could have found in the light
most favorable to the Commonwealth and reserve additional
facts for later discussion.
approximately 8:40 P..M. on January 31, 2005, members of the
Boston fire department heard banging on the door of a station
in Dorchester. They found the defendant at the door. He fell
down. His clothes, including the socks on his shoeless feet,
were covered in blood. The lone injury firefighters
discovered was a minor laceration between the defendant's
right thumb and forefinger that was not bleeding heavily
enough to account for all of the blood on his clothes. After
an ambulance arrived, the defendant became combative and was
handcuffed to a backboard by paramedics before being
transported to a Boston hospital.
the defendant told police that his last name began with a
"Z" instead of an "S" and provided them
with an inaccurate home address. Subsequent investigation led
police to the defendant's home in Dorchester, a
three-unit apartment building. On entry into the
defendant's third-floor apartment, police discovered the
victim lying dead on the floor between a hallway and a
bedroom. A Boston Police Department detective observed a
large pool of blood below the victim's body. Inside that
pool of blood was a kitchen knife with a wooden handle and a
serrated edge, which was "drastically" bent.
Commonwealth's chief medical examiner at the time of
trial testified to the victim's autopsy report, which had
been prepared by another medical examiner. He detailed the
victim's injuries, noting that the "most
lethal" wound was a cut beginning at the victim's
left ear and continuing to his neck. He described the wound
as a deep stab wound that injured both the victim's
carotid artery and his jugular vein, causing him to bleed to
death. He described eleven additional injuries; five were
abrasions and six were clearly caused by a sharp object. The
additional sharp object injuries included three stab wounds
(one to the left arm, one to the left shoulder, and one near
the left armpit that was four inches deep) and three, more
shallow, incised wounds (one to the outside of the left arm,
one to the left side of the chest, and one that extended from
the victim's left index finger to his ring finger). The
medical examiner described the injury across the victim's
fingers as consistent with the victim "trying to
deflect" the knife with that hand. He further opined
that the victim's wounds were consistent with the knife
that was found underneath him, and that the cut on the
defendant's hand was consistent with the murder weapon
slipping in the defendant's hand.
viewed reddish-brown stains throughout the apartment that
created a trail from the area of the victim's body down
the hallway, through the kitchen, onto the back porch, over
the third-floor railing and down to the railings on the
second and first floors, through the backyard, and over a
chain-link fence. That trail then led through a vacant lot
and onto nearby streets, eventually leading to the fire
station. Deoxyribonucleic acid testing identified the
victim's blood as a possible source of many of these
"reddish-brown" stains, including those on the
defendant's pants and socks, one on the porch railing on
the third floor, and one on a snow pile in the vacant lot.
defendant testified in his own defense and denied killing the
victim. He testified that the victim was "almost like my
brother" and that the two had spent the day of January
31 together in the apartment cooking and drinking beer.
Although the defendant did not recall how many beers he
consumed, his testimony suggested that he was drinking beer
from at least 11:30 A.M. until approximately 4 P.M., at which
point he fell asleep on the couch. The defendant testified
that he was awakened by loud voices arguing in the apartment
and saw two strange men inside the apartment arguing with the
victim. One of the men had a knife and began stabbing the
victim, causing the defendant to intervene. The defendant
said that he was then beaten by the two men and fled the
apartment, going directly to the fire station to find help.
judge denied the defendant's motions for a required
finding of not guilty. At the charge conference, trial
counsel requested that the judge instruct the jury on
intoxication as relevant to both intent and deliberate
premeditation. The judge so instructed the jury, but noted to
counsel that "there is a paucity of evidence on
[intoxication] and there's certainly no scientific
evidence that I've seen."