The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the conviction of Dwayne Taylor, who in serving a life sentence for the 2004 murder of David Fleet, and declined to order a new trial or reduce the murder conviction to a lesser degree of guilt.
The court upheld Dwayne Taylor's first degree murder conviction stemming from a 2004 shooting when they denied all four issues he raised on appeal yesterday.
"We are pleased the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today has upheld the conviction of Dwayne Taylor for the murder of David Fleet," Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone said. "Following a dispute at a party, this defendant became enraged and fatally shot the victim in the chest. I applaud the dedication and hard work of our trial and appellate teams, the Massachusetts State Police and the Natick Police on this case. Our thoughts remain with the family of the victim, who has lived through a long and difficult legal process to attain justice in this case."
This case stems from the May 7, 2004, shooting of Fleet, who was 23 at the time, at the house he lived in with two roommates in Natick. That night they invited several friends over for an informal party. Some uninvited guests, including Taylor, a Marlborough resident at the time, arrived and when a couple of them were asked to leave a fight broke out.
According to court reports, about a half hour later at 1:30 a.m., Taylor returned to the house and was yelling at a couple of the people who were inside through the open windows. When someone opened the rear glass door to enter the house, Taylor rushed the door and when it was shut on his arm he then pulled out a gun a fired a single shot through the glass that hit Fleet in the chest.
Framingham police spotted the vehicle Taylor had been riding in with one of his friend earlier that night at approximately 2:50 a.m. The vehicle was pulled over and Taylor was in the passenger seat and a firearm was on the floor of the front passenger seat.
Taylor had raised four issues at his appeal.
The first issue argued was whether the judge made an error in jury instructions when explaining the definition of first degree murder.
The second issue argued was related to a substitute judge giving the jury a supplemental instruction. The trial judge had not been in the courthouse during deliberations, but had heard discussions on the instructions via speakerphone. The substitute judge then read the instructions to the jury.
The third issue argued by Taylor was ineffective counsel. The SJC seemed to disagree and even made mention of several points they felt Taylor's trial attorney did well, noting that these things overshadowed the couple of mistakes the attorney may have made.
The fourth and final issue argued was that the conviction should be lessened to manslaughter and not first degree murder. The SJC pointed to the fact that Taylor left the home where the shooting took place and then returned with a firearm.
"We conclude that the defendant received a fair trial, and that the interests of justice do not require the reduction of the murder conviction to a lesser degree of guilt or a new trial," Justice Ralph D. Gants wrote for the Supreme Judicial Court.