Heard: October 7, 2019.
Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court
Department on April 1, 2008. The cases were tried before
Janet L. Sanders, J.
J. Kelly for the defendant.
A. Cusick, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Lowy, Budd, & Kafker, JJ.
defendant, Ariel Morales, was convicted by a jury of murder
in the first degree on the theories of deliberate
premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty, and of
conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shooting
death of Carlos Gomez. On appeal, the defendant contends that
the trial judge abused her discretion by allowing a State
police trooper to testify to the prior statements of a key
witness that were consistent with that witness's trial
testimony. This alleged error, the defendant argues, gave
rise to a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice.
Alternatively, the defendant requests that we exercise our
authority pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 33E, to reduce the
verdict or order a new trial. Upon full review of the record,
we affirm and decline to grant extraordinary relief under
summarize the facts the jury could have found, reserving
certain details for discussion. On the evening of October 14,
2007, the victim met with Luis Lopez, a drug dealer to whom
the victim owed money; Jose Perez, who worked for Lopez
selling drugs; and the defendant, Lopez's brother-in-law.
The victim had a money order, payable to a third party, that
the victim planned to use to repay the money owed to Lopez.
Lopez drove the men to several different convenience stores
in order for the victim to try to cash the money order;
however, the victim was unsuccessful.
the victim was inside the last convenience store visited,
attempting to cash the money order for a final time, Lopez
asked the defendant to kill the victim. The victim returned
to the vehicle, having been unable to obtain cash to repay
Lopez, and Lopez resumed driving. At some point the defendant
asked him to stop so that the defendant could smoke a
cigarette. Lopez stopped on a dark road, and both the
defendant and the victim got out of the car to smoke. The
defendant then drew a firearm from his waistband, called the
victim's name, and shot him in the forehead. When the
victim fell to the ground, the defendant stood over him and
shot him several more times. The victim was discovered hours
later lying on the side of the road in a pool of blood,
holding the money order in his hand.
Prior consistent statements.
who gave a statement to police after his arrest, was a key
witness for the Commonwealth. Among other things, he
testified as to events that took place before and after the
killing, as well as to details of the shooting itself.
Although Perez originally was charged with murder in the
first degree, months after providing his account of the
events to the police, he reached an agreement with the
Commonwealth in which he pleaded guilty to accessory to
murder after the fact and received a sentence of from five to
prosecutor also called as a witness the State police trooper
who interviewed Perez. Through the trooper's testimony,
the jury learned that the statements Perez made regarding the
killing during his interrogation were consistent with his
testimony. The defendant argues that the judge erred in
admitting Perez's prior ...