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Commonwealth v. Chicas

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

January 30, 2019

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FREDYS ALEXANDER CHICAS.

          Heard: November 9, 2018

         Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March 28, 2006. The case was tried before Margaret R. Hinkle, J., and a motion for a new trial, filed on May 15, 2015, was considered by Christine M. Roach, J.

          Janet H. Pumphrey for the defendant.

          Teresa K. Anderson, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.

          CYPHER, J.

         A jury convicted the defendant, Fredys Alexander Chicas, of murder in the first degree by extreme atrocity or cruelty as a joint venturer for the killing of the victim. We consolidated the defendant's direct appeal with his appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial. On appeal, the defendant contends that (1) he was denied his constitutional right to confront witnesses when the judge prohibited him from cross-examining several of the Commonwealth's witnesses on their citizenship statuses; and (2) the use of multiple interpreters by the judge violated his constitutional right to due process.

         For the reasons stated infra, we affirm the defendant's conviction and the denial of the defendant's motion for a new trial. After a thorough review of the record, we also decline to exercise our authority under G. L. c. 278, § 33E, to grant a new trial or to reduce the verdict of murder in the first degree.

         1. Background.

         We summarize the facts that the jury could have found, reserving pertinent facts for the discussion of the defendant's arguments. On Christmas Eve in 2005, the victim and the defendant attended a party at Jose Castillo's house in Chelsea. At some point in the evening, the victim, who was intoxicated, made inappropriate comments to the defendant's girl friend, Catea Travassas, and her sister, Lisette Santos. The victim also touched Travassas's buttocks. The defendant intervened and implored the victim not to disrespect Travassas.[1]Eventually, tempers boiled over and the defendant punched the victim in the face. The fight escalated and other partygoers got involved, including the defendant's coventurer, Jesus Villanueva. The men brought the victim outside the house, where they hit him with bottles of beer.

         After the fight, the victim ran away. He returned a short time later looking for his cellular telephone. He was not allowed back into the house, and a few men, including the defendant, went outside and began to kick the victim. As a result, the victim left and returned again. He started smashing Castillo's vehicle with rocks, a bottle, and a stick. The defendant and Villanueva confronted the victim. The defendant was armed with a baseball bat. The defendant beat the victim with the bat, and Villanueva kicked him. The victim ran away, but the defendant and Villanueva pursued him. The men caught the victim in a parking lot that was one and one-half blocks away. The defendant and Villanueva beat him with the bat and a stick then "left [him] . . . [a]11 bloodied on the ground."

         Approximately ten to fifteen minutes later, the defendant and Villanueva returned to the party with blood on their clothing. Castillo gave the defendant clean clothes and told him to change. The defendant stated: "I killed him"; "[w]e killed [him]"; and "don't talk about this." When Santos started crying, the defendant responded, "You don't have to be crying for that mother fucker."

         After he changed his clothes, the defendant, Villanueva, the sisters, and another partygoer, Ricardo Mendoza, left the party. On the way to Mendoza's house, the defendant stopped his vehicle underneath a nearby bridge to retrieve the baseball bat used against the victim. The defendant was concerned that his fingerprints were on the bat. The defendant gave the bat to Mendoza and told him to hide it at his residence. The defendant threatened Santos, telling her that he would run her over if she told the police what had happened.

         The defendant and Villanueva then returned to the parking lot. Upon arriving, the men realized that the victim was alive. The victim was speaking and moving. For the next ten minutes, the defendant hit the victim on the back and Villanueva hit him on the head. The defendant later told ...


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