Heard: December 7, 2018
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on April
cases were tried before David A. Lowy, J.
Elizabeth A. Billowitz for the defendant.
Moriarty, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker,
a jury trial, the defendant, Jose I. Collazo, was convicted
of murder in the first degree on a theory of deliberate
premeditation, in connection with the shooting death of Jose
Fuentes, and of carrying a firearm without a license in
violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a.),  On appeal,
the defendant argues evidentiary errors as well as improper
argument during the prosecutor's closing, all of which he
claims require a reversal of his convictions. Alternatively,
the defendant requests that we exercise our authority under
G. L. c. 278, § 33E, to reduce the verdict of murder in
the first degree because the evidence is insufficient to
establish deliberate premeditation. Upon full review of the
record, we affirm and decline to reduce his murder conviction
under § 33E.
summarize the facts as the jury could have found them,
reserving certain details for discussion infra. On
February 13, 2009, the defendant's former girlfriend,
Sandra Fajardo, ended her dating relationship with the
defendant and immediately started dating the victim. On the
evening of February 20, 2009, the victim, Fajardo,
Fajardo's two young children, and Fajardo's friend
Jenny Albizu were at the apartment that Fajardo and the
defendant recently had rented. Sometime after midnight,
Fajardo, the victim, and Albizu heard someone knocking on the
back door and the windows of the basement apartment. Fajardo
told the victim not to go outside to see who was knocking
because she thought it was the defendant.
the following morning, the defendant telephoned his friend,
Jamie Fekeris, to ask what kind of automobile the victim
drove. After Fekeris provided the defendant with this
information, the defendant stated, "I'm going to get
that fucker." Between approximately 8 A.M. and 8:30
A.M., the defendant asked the landlord to help him access the
apartment, telling the landlord that Fajardo was out of town.
The landlord, who had rented the apartment to both Fajardo
and the defendant days before, gave the defendant access to
the basement and provided him with a butter knife to force
open the lock on the door to the apartment.
defendant entered the apartment, greeted Albizu, and
proceeded to walk to the bedroom where Fajardo, her two
children, and the victim were sleeping. Witnesses heard
gunshots and screaming. First responders found the victim
lying on the bed in a pool of blood. An autopsy revealed that
the victim suffered four gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to
ten to twenty minutes after his first telephone call to
Fekeris, the defendant called Fekeris again and told him,
"I just merked him." Fekeris understood the term
"merk" to mean "kill." The defendant went
to Alyssa Hooper and Samantha Witham's apartment, which
was located nearby. While there, the defendant appeared upset
and agitated. He asked Hooper if she had any bleach that he
could use to wash his hands because he thought there was
blood on them. The defendant washed his hands and told Hooper
and Witham that he would pay them to drive him to New York.
During the drive to New York, the defendant told Hooper and
Witham that he killed the victim. On March 4, 2009, the
defendant surrendered to New York City police after learning
that there was a warrant for his arrest. During questioning
with Massachusetts State police, the defendant claimed to
have been in New York City at the time the victim was killed.
trial, the defendant mounted a heat of passion defense,
conceding that he beat and shot the victim, but only did so
because he "went crazy" when he ...