Massachusetts Man Charged With Murder After Fatally Shooting Teenager Who Mistakenly Knocked On The Wrong Door

UnknownThere is a tragic case out of Chicopee, Massachusetts where a 15-year-old boy was shot after he appeared to go to the wrong house after a night of drinking. 42-year-old Jeffrey Lovell is accused of shooting through the door and killing teenager Dylan Francisco. Lowell is facing a murder charge.

It is a case reminiscent of the most notorious case involving the shooting of a Japanese student in Baton Rouge. The 16-year-old Japanese exchange student, Yoshihiro Hattori, was looking for a Halloween party and scared the wife of Rodney Peairs when he spoke a strange language and approached the house. Peairs shot him in the chest with a .44 Magnum handgun and was later cleared under a Make My Day law as mistaken defense of his home and self. We also saw a tragic such case involving the killing of a law student last year.

door19n-2-webFrancisco was trying to find a friend with another teenager after drinking a bit. The similarity of the homes in the neighborhood probably contributed to the confusion. The teenagers knocked on the door and they may have broken a pane of glass on the door.

 

Lovell is known to pose with various guns and has been a vocal advocate of the Second Amendment.

article-door-0718These cases often raise “Castle doctrine” issues where home owners are allowed to use lethal force in the cases of intruders within their domicile or home. In Massachusetts, you generally must show that you are acting in reasonable self-defense. However, there is an exception under G.L. c. 278, § 8A :

In the prosecution of a person who is an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring one who was unlawfully in said dwelling, it shall be a defense that the occupant was in his dwelling at the time of the offense and that he acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in said dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant or upon another person lawfully in said dwelling, and that said occupant used reasonable means to defend himself or such other person lawfully in said dwelling. There shall be no duty on said occupant to retreat from such person unlawfully in said dwelling.

Thus there is no duty to retreat but you must show (1) that he or she reasonably believed that the intruder was unlawfully entering the dwelling, (2) that he or she reasonably believed that the intruder was about to inflict death or serious bodily injury upon the defendant or someone else who is lawfully in the dwelling, and (3) the defendant acted with reasonable means of self-defense or defense of another person who was lawfully present. Here Francisco did not enter the dwelling but may have broken the pane of a window in the door. There is also the question of whether it is reasonable to believe that he was facing either death of serious bodily injury. Again that pane of glass could be key to a defense. Moreover, Lowell says that he first tried to speak with the teenager but fired after the breaking of the glass.

What do you think?

Source: Washington Post

101 thoughts on “Massachusetts Man Charged With Murder After Fatally Shooting Teenager Who Mistakenly Knocked On The Wrong Door

  1. The Zimmerman jury DID have the option of convicting him of manslaughter.
    They chose to not to convict on either the 2nd degree murder or manslaughter.
    I did not follow the trial closely, but that “manslaughter option” was not a minor part of that story.

  2. tnash

    Jurors who were interviewed after the trial stated that they did not feel that convicting Zimmerman of manslaughter as an option was the proper thing to do as they did not witness a trial for manslaughter. Legal experts also stated that advising the jury that they could convict for manslaughter did not place the jury in the proper position to bring down that verdict. Zimmerman was incorrectly charged with murder which due to the inappropriateness of the charge made him a victim of sorts. The jury went into the trial with the burden of convicting some one for murder who was obviously not a murderer. Zimmerman was not convicted with manslaughter because he was not charged with manslaughter and the charge was not prosecuted with all the necessary affiliated information and evidence designed by the prosecution. Legal experts scoffed at the option as a lame attempt to get Zimmerman charged with something, double parking perhaps.

    If you research the concept of manslaughter the legal definition puts Zimmerman’s actions in-between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. He would have done jail time if Corey had half a brain and wasn’t grandstanding. She tried to make the event a grand moment in her career. She had a history of over charging.

  3. If I missed someone’s mentioning it, my apologies.

    The kid was 15 and drunk. Who gave him the booze? Isn’t there provision to prosecute the provider for being a party to the ultimate end? Is there an investigation including this issue?

    Seems that another party is open to a real lawsuit…unless it’s the parental involvement? Still, isn’t this an incident that then would include child endangerment, abuse….etc.?

    Deserving death? I am armed, but am buying a new non-lethal pistol which shoots pellets containing military grade teargas (actually powder) and pepper spray ingredients. Incompacitate almost immediately with a near miss into the floor. Semi-auto with 7 round clip and CO2 cartridge.

  4. Isaac- Juries have wide latitude in arriving at verdicts.
    They can be very unpredictable, and not necessarily analytical.
    If, after getting clear instructions that they could convict on the lesser charge of manslaughter, they exclude that option because they didn’t see “a trial for manslaughter”, it’s a lame excuse on which to base an acquital.
    I don’t know if the jury as a whole felt that way……they saw the EVIDENCE that would allow them convict on either charge.
    Since they felt that the evidence fell short of that needed to convict on the 2nd degree murder charge, they could consider a manslaughter conviction.
    The fact that the prosecutor tried to convict on the murder charge did not “tie their hands” in considering the lesser charge.

  5. tnash

    The jury’s decision was based on Zimmerman’s fear for his life. Murder or manslaughter goes out the door if the defendant fears for his life. This puts the focus on the physical encounter and negates the initial cause of the encounter. Zimmerman caused the encounter firstly by getting out of his car. Nothing further would have taken place had he stayed in his car. On top of that the dispatcher’s comments and protocol have Zimmerman acting in a reckless manner.

    The rest is entirely Zimmerman’s word. He could have been jumped by Martin or he could have approached Martin as the wannabe cop that he was. He could have attempted to hold Martin until the cops arrived. No one will ever know. Zimmerman’s ‘wounds’ were not so severe but were there to be used along with his testimony. All of this would have been moot if Zimmerman had stayed in the car.

    Juries have wide latitudes and manslaughter’s two types of charges can both demand acquittal if fear for one’s life is obvious. However, in this case Zimmerman’s fear for his life was mostly his word accompanied by some scratches. The reality of the fear could only have been decided by the mindset of the jury. Inappropriately charging Zimmerman with murder or intent to kill helped create a mindset of Zimmerman as the victim.

    Murder and manslaughter charges have been brought and achieved based on negligence. This jury was faced with the improbably scenario of Zimmerman setting out to kill Martin for whatever reason. It was not faced with the actuality that Zimmerman caused the death of Martin when it could have been avoided. Faced with the appropriate charge of manslaughter based on the irrefutable fact that Zimmerman initially caused the incident, was armed, and having killed Martin left only himself as a witness, after the trial legal experts mostly agreed that Corey charged Zimmerman incorrectly and if she had charged him appropriately there would have been a good chance that he would have been convicted of manslaughter.

    As it stands Zimmerman could have approached Martin and shot him from a few feet away while Martin was simply standing there. Then Zimmerman could have stated that Martin was charging him and he felt in fear of his life. This was the focal point of the controversy at the time, the difference between the ‘necessary’ killing of someone and the avoidable situation. Even though the ‘stand your ground’ law issue was not formally taken into context here, it was there in the news and in the minds of the jurors. The critical part of that law where it exists is the ‘belief or feeling that one’s life is in danger.

    “So, I went out into the street to tell those teenagers to stop making noise. They turned and started towards me. I was packing as I am licensed to pack, felt my life in danger, so I dropped a few of them to let them know I meant business.”

    I suppose it comes with the territory, the US.

  6. Isaac- The DA did not file charges, and the police did not make an arrest ( until the special prosecutor was appointed).
    I don’t know the reputation the DA, or the local police who investigated.
    I.E., if they have a reputation for aggressively filing charges, making arrest, or if they are more inclined to back off if the evidence is not clear cut.
    But if this had not been a high profile case, the local authorities would have let Zimmerman walk…..no arrest, no trial.
    I did a quick review of the jurors’ statements
    ….one juror expressed her opinion that Travon Martin, angered at previously being followed by Zimmerman, did attack him.
    While there were no eyewitnesses to the fatal confrontation, the physical evidence supported Zimmerman’s contention that Martin was on top of him, attempting to use his head as a basketball against the concrete.
    Zimmerman would have been on firmer ground legally if he had shot after getting a fractured skull or substantial intracranial bleeding, but from a self defense standpoint, he may well have lost his capacity to shoot at that point.
    I don’t know exactly what the jurors saw at trial, or their process/ reasoning for the not guilty verdicts.
    But the fact that local police did not arrest, and that the DA filed no charges, seems to indicate that they felt they had a weak case.
    And in the absence of evidence that contradicted Zimmerman’s account of self defense, the jurors decided to acquit.
    A guy like Zimmerman would hardly be my first choice as a block watch volunteer, but I think his claim of self defense was very difficult for the prosecution to overcome.

  7. tnash

    I am aware of juror’s statements after the fact who stuck with their self defense verdict as well as other who expressed that the trial was confusing to the point that they went along with the self defense argument. There have been manslaughter type cases that have been upped to murder and murder type cases that have been reduced to manslaughter. The history of the judicial process in the US, as with other countries, points to the laws as being guidelines that under specific circumstances can have their boundaries stepped over, either up or down regarding severity.

    My position is a combination of my personal perspective which would see that scumbag Zimmerman in jail for a minimum of ten years for a combination of what he did and how he did it and to send a message to others, perhaps this itchy trigger finger which is the subject of this posting. Either way there were plenty of legal ‘experts’ who stated that Zimmerman would never have been convicted of murder but would have been convicted of manslaughter had that been the original design. The key words here being original and design.

    The law is the law and public opinion is public opinion. Then there is the personality of those in conflict. In this case Angela Corey was also a criminal, in my mind. She placed her narcissistic self above the execution of the law. I would have loved to see Zimmerman convicted of manslaughter. Enough legal ‘experts’ have stated that this was a distinct possibility. There are those ‘experts’ that differ. At this point it is moot and I no longer give a drek. My position is that Zimmerman unnecessarily caused the death of an innocent. Regardless of who Martin was, thug, misguided teenager, or just a kid, Zimmerman killed him to satisfy his own narcissistic self interests. Kind of like Angela Corey. There is this one extreme of shoot first and ask questions later. Zimmerman went beyond this, he created the situation. His injuries were debatable. Then there is the other extreme where one is handicapped and killed because it is impossible to defend oneself. We need, as a nation, to be able to find a middle ground. One extreme leads to another. Each case must be selectively decided and dealt with appropriately for both those involve and to set a precedent. The Zimmerman case was mishandled and did more damage than good. I rest my case and will end it here.

    • issac – there was uncontested testimony that Zimmermann did not draw his gun until after was on the ground getting his head pounded into the concrete. There is nothing to show that he had an itchy trigger finger. In fact, the evidence shows that Martin attacked him.

  8. Isaac…..you expressed your view that Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin to. “…satisfy his own narissistic self interests.”
    Zimmerman’s defense, which got him acquitted, was that he was acting out of self preservation.
    The legitimate issues about Zimmerman’s conduct center around his “trailing” Trayvon Martin, and the use of deadly force against an unarmed assailant.
    Zimmerman may well have a “vigilante complex” that motivated him to exercise bad judgement in monitoring “strangers” in the condo complex.
    Had Trayvon Martin not been shot, completed the assault, been arrested and charged, he probably could have used Zimmerman’s “dogging” him as a mitigating factor.
    I think the primary issue for the jurors at Zimmerman’s trial was the self defense claim…….was Martin assaulting Zimmerman when he was shot?
    The prosecution could fault Zimmerman for instigating that final assault by “trailing” Martin, finding him partially responsible for the assault by Martin.
    But that tactic does not undercut Zimmerman’s self defense claim once he was attacked.
    Absent evidence that he intentionally “lured” Martin into a fight, or that he followed him for the purpose of causing a fight, the self defense claim is still a strong defense.

  9. Squeeky…
    I think both his age and his race were factors in the decision to appoint a special prosecutor after local DA decided not to prosecute.
    Neither of those factors came into play in the Nov. 2015 shooting death of Idaho rancher Jack Yantis.
    It is, nonetheless, interesting to see the official “response” in this case.

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