On trial for two counts of Armed Robbery, two counts of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and one count of Assault & Battery, Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis was able to obtain an acquittal of all charges for his client, and high school senior.
The defendant, along with another young man, was alleged to have violently robbed 2 men in Boston's South End in July 2008. The prosecutor alleged that my client ran up from behind and knocked down one of the victims, while the other young man pulled out a gun, enabling the two to rob them of their property. The prosecutor's theory was that the two defendant's then split up and ran away.
The Boston Police Department responded within minutes and were looking for two black males, one taller and heavier-set, the other shorter and skinner, both wearing black clothing. Moments later a car was stopped a few blocks away, in which my client and the driver were detained and held for what is called a 'bring-back identification.' They were stopped, I argued, for no other reason than because they were simply two black kids who happened to be in the area. Notably, there was no report of a car being involved in the robbery, and it was undisputed that the robbers had fled on foot. The description of the suspects, simply that of two black males, one taller and heavier, one shorter and skinnier, was way too broad, I argued. The two victims were brought to where the two young men were held and they each identified the my client and the driver of the car as the one's who robbed them.
A few moments later, however, Boston Police Officers located a third individual hiding in the bushes. It was this young man, a taller heavier-set black male who was found to have a gun, along with all the money and personal property of the persons who just got robbed. It turns out this man was the one with the gun who robbed him, and they now realized they had mistakenly identified the driver of the car as the one with the gun. My client, however, the shorter and skinner one, they were sure was still involved. But if they mistakenly identified the driver of the car as the heavier black male who had the gun, chances are, they also mistakenly identified my client. By all accounts, this was as suggestive an identification if I ever saw one.
No evidence was offered at trial, however, linking my client and the driver of the car to this third person who was found in the bushes. There was no property or weapons of any sort in the car. At this point, it was obvious that the Boston Police just stopped the first two black kids they saw, convinced they were the ones.
Despite three separate identifications involving my client, and the victim testifying at trial, pointing at my client and telling the jury that he was 100% sure that my client was one of the two involved in the robbery, a Suffolk County jury found reasonable doubt and acquitted my client of all charges. The main theory of defense at trial was, of course, challenging the accuracy of the identifications, and convincing a jury that, under the circumstances, the victim's initial purported identification was influenced or tainted when the Boston Police told them that they "caught the guys" prior to bringing them back to view the suspects.
Critical to my theory of defense, the judge instructed the jury on the importance of Identification evidence, and reminded them that it is the prosecutor's burden to prove the charges against my client beyond a reasonable doubt, and that included the identification of my client as the perpetrator of the crime. Notwithstanding the jury being instructed that my client could be convicted as a "Joint Venturer" for aiding and abetting in the crime, I knew that if I could challenge the identification, my client would be vindicated.
This case is yet another example of how, despite overwhelming evidence against my client, tremendous case preparation and attention to detail can turn what may seem like an insurmountable case for the prosecution into a not guilty verdict. Facing a minimum-mandatory sentence of 5 years to life in state prison, my client walked out of Suffolk Superior Court a free man this afternoon.
The implications for my client, however, went far beyond a state prison sentence. A student in high school and a star basketball player, he has recently been offered and accepted several basketball scholarships to various Division I programs. His entire future was at stake...
Ironically, both of the other two men that were arrested with regards to this incident pled Guilty to the charges prior to trial.
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