Heard: September 10, 2019.
Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court
Department on March 30, 2010. The cases were tried before
Christine M. McEvoy, J.; a motion for postconviction relief,
filed on April 25, 2017, was considered by Peter M. Lauriat,
J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered by
Christine M. Roach, J.
Chauncey B. Wood for the defendant.
Kathryn E. Leary, Assistant District Attorney (Ian Polumbaum,
Assistant District Attorney, also present) for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Lowy, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.
August 25, 2009, Erica Field and Shameek Garcia were shot in
the head at close range as they sat in a parked vehicle in a
lot in the Dorchester section of Boston. Garcia survived;
Field did not. A jury convicted the defendant, Amos Don, of
murder in the first degree on the theory of deliberate
premeditation, and related charges, in connection with the
shootings. Before us is the defendant's
consolidated appeal from his convictions, from the denial of
his motion for a new trial, and from the denial of a motion
to reconsider the denial of his new trial motion. On appeal,
the defendant makes three primary claims: (1) that newly
discovered medical records warrant a new trial, or at least
an evidentiary hearing on the defendant's postconviction
motions; (2) that trial counsel was constitutionally
ineffective (on several grounds, discussed infra);
and (3) that the trial judge committed reversible error in
admitting evidence of the defendant's prior, failed
attempts to purchase a firearm. For the reasons discussed
infra, we reject the defendant's arguments, we
affirm his convictions and the denial of his postconviction
motions, and we decline to grant extraordinary relief
pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 33E.
summarize the facts the jury could have found, reserving
certain topics for later discussion. In the summer of 2009,
the murder victim, Field, was living in Lewiston, Maine, with
her eleven year old daughter, Monica, and her long-term
boyfriend, Garcia, who was also known as "JoJo." In
early August of that year, Field and Garcia met the
defendant, whom they knew as "Ace," at a house in
Lewiston where people would go to buy drugs.
defendant had traveled to Lewiston from his home in Boston in
order to sell cocaine and heroin. Garcia and the defendant
began to work together, as Garcia knew the Lewiston illegal
drug market and the defendant did not. This was mainly in
connection with the defendant's efforts to sell cocaine,
as Garcia was less familiar with the market for heroin.
Garcia also arranged for the defendant to stay in a spare
bedroom in the home of Donald and Deann Dyer in Lewiston in
exchange for cocaine. The defendant kept his supply of
cocaine and heroin in his bedroom at the Dyers' home.
early August 2009, the defendant attempted to have a woman
named Christine Gilleland purchase three firearms from a gun
shop in Poland, Maine. However, her application to purchase
the firearms was denied.
week before the murder, the defendant discovered that his
supply of heroin -- for which he still owed his Boston
suppliers about $6, 000 -- was missing. The defendant
initially blamed Samantha Leonard, a heroin user and a friend
of Field and Garcia. Leonard had recently spent time with the
defendant in his bedroom, and when the two were leaving, she
had made a point of returning to the room alone to retrieve
her cellular telephone. The defendant told Garcia "that
if it took him a year or two, he'd put that bitch
[Leonard] in a box." The next day the defendant
confronted Leonard about the missing heroin, telling her in a
"very scary" tone that he "wanted his
shit." Leonard told the defendant "he was looking
at the wrong person that was sitting there smoking his
money," referring to Garcia.
this time, the defendant made a second attempt to purchase a
firearm, this time from Stephen Waterman. Waterman sold the
defendant a .45 caliber semiautomatic with a missing clip.
The defendant asked Waterman if he could put a bullet in the
chamber without the clip; Waterman said no. Waterman told the
defendant that a clip had been ordered and was waiting at a
gun shop, but when the defendant went with Deann Dyer to the
gun shop to retrieve it, the clip could not be located. The
defendant also asked an employee of the gun shop whether a
bullet could be loaded in the chamber manually, without a
clip; the employee said it could not.
after that, the defendant and Garcia discussed traveling to
Boston so that the defendant could refill his supply of
cocaine and try to get an extension to pay his supplier back
for the missing heroin. Garcia borrowed a red Ford sedan from
an acquaintance in exchange for some cash and cocaine.
Because Garcia did not have a valid driver's license,
Garcia and the defendant decided that Field should accompany
August 25, 2009, the three drove from Lewiston to Boston in
the red Ford sedan. Upon arriving in Boston, they went to the
defendant's home. The defendant spent some time on the
telephone trying to contact his suppliers. A few hours later,
the defendant said he had "found somebody," and
they got in the red Ford and began driving to a different
location. Garcia drove, with Field in the front passenger
seat and the defendant in the rear driver's side seat.
The defendant told Garcia where to go, and at some point,
they began following a silver sedan. During this time, Garcia
gave the defendant the cash that he had brought to spend on
vehicles came to a stop in a lot on Norwell Street. The
defendant got out of the red vehicle and got into the back
seat of the silver vehicle. He stayed in the silver vehicle
for a few minutes before returning to the red Ford and
getting in the back seat on the driver's side. The last
thing Garcia remembers is turning to his right toward the
back seat and asking the defendant if they were "all
in a nearby house heard three gunshots ("pop, pop,"
then a pause, then "pop") and called the police.
Sergeant Detective Sean Doherty responded to a call for shots
fired at the lot on Norwell Street. Upon arriving, he
observed Garcia standing in the doorway of the front
driver's side door of the red Ford. Garcia walked around
the front of the vehicle to the front passenger side and dove
head first onto Field's lap. Field appeared
nonresponsive. Garcia then fell out of the vehicle onto his
knees and fell backward onto the ground.
asked Garcia, "Who shot you?" Garcia said,
"Ace." Doherty then asked what Ace's real name
was and where he lived. Garcia kept repeating the word,
"Ace." His mouth then began to fill with blood.
Doherty stopped asking questions at that point because
"[he] realized [he] wasn't going to get any
different response from [Garcia] and based on his condition,
there was no need to go any further."
review of cellular telephone records, including cell site
location information, confirmed that the defendant traveled
from Maine to Boston on August 25, and that, once in Boston,
he traveled from the neighborhood where he lived to the area
of the crime at the time of the murder. Fingerprint analysis
of the red Ford showed two of the defendant's
fingerprints on the rear driver's side window. Ballistics
evidence showed that a bullet recovered from Field's body
and one recovered from the front passenger's side door of
the red Ford were fired from the same firearm.
medical examiner, Mindy Hull, testified about Field's
gunshot wounds. Wounds to Field's left hand and left
nostril could have been caused by a single bullet as Field
held her left hand up to her face. A second bullet entered
Field's head behind her left ear, passed through the
temporal bone of her skull and through the left side of the
cerebellum, bisecting her brain stem (the bullet fragmented
during this time), until the major portions of the bullet
came to a stop in the right side of the cerebellum. Hull
testified that the wounds to Field's nose and hand showed
"stippling," and that the wound behind Field's
left ear had "soot deposition," indicating that the
firearm was shot within two or three feet of the
on a review of medical records, Hull also discussed
Garcia's injuries, explaining that Garcia suffered
"multiple maxilla facial fractures" to the right
side of his face and "traumatic contusion of the right
temporal lobe" of his brain. A portion of Garcia's
medical records themselves were admitted in evidence. Those
records describe his injuries as "Principle Diagnosis:
GSW to face," and "GSW to right face." The
records also describe Garcia as having been "shot in the
head" with "bullet fragments within the sinus and
days following the murder, the defendant displayed
consciousness of guilt through his words and actions. The
defendant's cellular telephone was on his
sister-in-law's account. On August 26, the defendant
asked his sister-in-law to change his telephone number,
telling her that he was being harassed by his son's
mother, Fabiola Ramponeau. The day after the murder, the
defendant visited Ramponeau at work and brought her sneakers
for their son that he had bought during the trip down from
Lewiston. He also stayed with Ramponeau twice during the week
after the murder.
Misty Deschaine, a close friend of Field's, called the
defendant on the day of the murder to find out what had
happened to Field and Garcia, the defendant denied knowing
who Field and Garcia were. Over the subsequent days,
Deschaine continued to call the defendant; at one point, she
confronted him about the murder, and he stated, "you
cannot play with someone else's money ... or something
bad will happen."
when confronted by Gilleland about whether he had shot Garcia
and Field, the defendant responded, "they would have to
prove it"; and after Gilleland told him she might be
pregnant with his child, he told her that "[she]
didn't want to have a kid with somebody like him cause
[she] knew what type of person that he was, and that he could
end up doing life in jail" and that "he might have
to kill innocent people."
jury indicted the defendant for murder in violation of G. L.
c. 265, § 1; aggravated assault and battery by means of
a dangerous weapon, in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 15A
(b); armed assault with intent to murder, in violation of G.
L. c. 265, § 18 (b); and unlicensed possession of a
firearm, in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a.) .
Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted on all
four indictments. As to Field's killing, the jury
convicted the defendant of murder in the first degree on a
theory of deliberate premeditation. The judge sentenced the
defendant to life in prison for the murder and to concurrent
sentences of from thirteen to fifteen years for the
aggravated assault and battery, from fifteen to twenty years
for the armed assault with intent to murder, and from four
years to four years and one day for the unlicensed possession
of a firearm.
defendant timely appealed, and postconviction counsel was
appointed. On April 27, 2017, the defendant filed a motion
for a new trial in this court, which was remanded to the
Superior Court. In the motion, the defendant argued that his
trial counsel provided constitutionally ineffective
assistance for three main reasons: (1) the failure to utilize
evidence that Garcia was an informant to rebut the
prosecutor's argument that no one other than the
defendant had a motive to shoot Garcia; (2) the failure to
challenge the reliability of Garcia's statements to the
police immediately after being shot in the head; and (3) the
failure to challenge expert testimony presented by the
Commonwealth regarding the trajectory of a bullet that became
lodged inside the front passenger's side door of the
vehicle in which the victims were seated.
filing the motion, postconviction counsel noticed that one of
the Commonwealth's pretrial discovery notices suggested
that more medical records existed than those that had been
produced to the defendant. Postconviction counsel alerted the
Commonwealth, which determined that its file contained the
same, underinclusive set of records that had already been
produced to the defendant. Postconviction counsel moved for
discovery of the additional records. On October 13, 2017, the
regional administrative justice ordered production of