Scientific test, Relevancy and materiality. Practice,
Criminal, Postconviction relief.
Merritt Schnipper for the defendant.
Donna-Marie Haran, Assistant District Attorney, for the
M. Kavanaugh, Committee for Public Counsel Services,
Stephanie Roberts Hartung, Isaac N. Saidel-Goley, Sarah L.
Rosenbluth, Sara J. van Vliet, & Sharon L. Beckman, for
New England Innocence Project & others, amici curiae,
submitted a brief.
March 2006, after a jury trial, the defendant was found
guilty of home invasion, armed assault in a dwelling, rape,
and assault and battery; he was sentenced to from twenty to
twenty-five years in State prison. The defendant here appeals
from the denial of a motion filed pursuant to G. L. c. 278A
(chapter 278A) seeking postconviction forensic and scientific
testing of evidence and biological material to support a
motion for a new trial. We decide this appeal on the basis of
our opinion today in Commonwealth v. Williams, 481
Mass. (2019), 
and prior proceedings.
evidence presented at the defendant's trial is summarized
in Commonwealth v. Putnam, 75 Mass.App.Ct. 472,
473-476 (2009), the affirmance of the defendant's
convictions on direct appeal. We provide a condensed version
of events as the jury could have found them.
evening of January 26, 2004, the defendant, with whom the
victim was acquainted, knocked at the victim's door,
seeking to speak with her. After initially turning the
defendant away, the victim allowed the defendant to enter her
home, and the two spoke for a short period of time. When the
victim attempted to make a telephone call, the defendant
grabbed the victim, punched her in the face, and threw the
telephone to the floor. After beating the victim, the
defendant pulled a knife out of his pocket and stated,
"You can make this hard or you can make this easy."
defendant tore off some of the victim's clothing and
digitally raped her. When the defendant paused to pull his
shirt off, the victim fled. Naked from the waist down, the
victim ran to a neighbor's house; the neighbor called the
police, who arrived at the scene within minutes.
trial, the defendant testified in his own defense that the
physical contact between him and the victim was consensual
and did not include penetration. As for the knife, the
defendant testified that he had tried to give it to the
victim because he was afraid that he would hurt himself.
defendant filed the instant chapter 278A motion pro se in
July 2016, and he supplemented it once he was appointed
counsel. In his motion, the defendant asserted his factual
innocence, claiming that he did not enter the victim's
home with the intent to commit a crime (and thus was not
guilty of home invasion); that he neither used force on nor
caused injury to the victim (and thus was not guilty of
either armed assault or assault and battery); and that he did
not penetrate the victim (and thus was not guilty of rape).
Among other things, the defendant further asserted, pursuant
to G. L. c. 278A, § 3 (b) (4), that the requested
forensic testing of clothing collected from the victim, and
the testing of the sexual assault evidence collection kit,
had the potential to result in evidence material to the
defendant's identification as the perpetrator.
Commonwealth opposed the defendant's motion, arguing
principally that the defendant's claim that no crime
occurred was categorically barred from chapter 278A relief
because it did not put identity at issue. In denying the
defendant's motion, the judge stated in part:
"The defendant's motion and affidavits do not meet
the requirements of [G. L. c. 278A, § 3 (b) (4), ] in
that the defendant has not met his burden to show whether any
test results could be material to the question of identity of
the perpetrator. Here the issue is not identity, but ...