Calvin L. Carnes, Jr., one of the men convicted for the Murder of four young men in a Dorchester basement recording studio, has petitioned the Suffolk Superior Court for a new trial.
Carnes, along with Robert Turner, were convicted in 2008 for the shootings of Jason Bachiller, Jihad Chankhour, Edwin Duncan and Christopher Vieira, who were shot a total of 15 times in Duncan’s basement studio. As a result of the Murder conviction, Carnes was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences (whereas Turner, who reached a deal with prosecutors, pled Guilty to Accessory After the Fact and was sentenced to 13 years).
Carnes claims that the judge at his murder trial wrongfully dismissed the sole juror who did not believe he was guilty and who was apparently the ‘holdout’ during those deliberations. At the time, it was reported that the juror was dismissed because she failed to disclose her ex-husband’s criminal record.
The decision to remove the holdout juror was particularly controversial at the time because, not only was the juror convinced that Carnes was ‘not guilty’, but the jurors had sent 5 notes to the judge, each exclaiming that they were hopelessly deadlocked. Additionally, the Suffolk County prosecutor and the Boston Police Department, without informing the Judge or the defense attorney, conducted a criminal background check on all of the jurors, which led to the discovery of that juror’s husband’s record – but the prosecutor did not disclose this information until the jury foreperson sent a note advising of issues during the deliberations, and in particular, that holdout juror. Once that holdout juror, she who was adamant in acquitting Carnes, was dismissed and replaced with another juror, the jury returned a verdict of guilty the following day.
As a result, Carnes argues that, by not immediately declaring a mistrial when they jury indicated they were hopelessly deadlocked and/or at the first signs of the jury not deliberating appropriately, the trial judge showed prejudiced against the defendant.
Notably, at the time when this case was tried, it was not common for criminal background checks to be conducted on sitting jurors. Today, it is requested of by the prosecutors and granted in almost all my criminal cases.
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