The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for first degree murder in Commonwealth v. Seino, despite the erroneous admission of hearsay evidence through the testimony of substitute expert witnesses.
The background was as follows. The day before the victim was killed, “the defendant’s roommate warned [him] that he would be asked to move out [of their shared apartment] if he did not pay the total amount that he owed by the following day.” That evening, the defendant spent time at a local bar. Also at the bar was the victim, who “appeared to be drunk … and ‘flaunt[ed]’ [a large sum of cash] such that one of his friends urged him to ‘put [it] away.’” The defendant left the bar at 12:30 a.m. “The victim left the bar when it closed” at 1:00 a.m. At 1:30 a.m., the defendant gave his roommate the overdue rent money. At 7:00 a.m., “[t]he victim’s lifeless body was discovered” at an outdoor location “with contusions to his nose and the back of his head. Although his wallet was still on his person, most of the cash he had had was missing. Investigators took samples from the defendant’s clothing, including a snippet from the left front jeans pocket and a snippet from the front of the victim’s shirt, both of which had bloodstains. The DNA extracted from the jeans pocket sample was a mixture that matched the DNA profiles of both the victim and the defendant. The DNA extracted from the bloodstain on the victim’s shirt matched the profile of the defendant alone. The defendant, who testified at trial, offered weak alibi evidence.” On appeal from his convictions of first-degree murder and armed robbery, he contended that his constitutional right to confront witnesses was violated by the admission of substitute expert testimony regarding the DNA test results. Continue reading →