THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

SJC rejects convicted killer’s stay of appeal motion

Defense lawyer still pursuing new trial for ’05 case

Calvin Carnes, shown at his 2008 sentencing for the 2005 slaying of four men in Dorchester, sought a new trial to show he was framed. Earlier this month, his lawyer told the Supreme Judicial Court that the Suffolk district attorney’s office had withheld information that cast doubt on Carnes’s guilt. Calvin Carnes, shown at his 2008 sentencing for the 2005 slaying of four men in Dorchester, sought a new trial to show he was framed. Earlier this month, his lawyer told the Supreme Judicial Court that the Suffolk district attorney’s office had withheld information that cast doubt on Carnes’s guilt. (George Rizer/ Globe Staff/ File 2008)
By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / August 31, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

The state’s highest court has rejected a motion by the man convicted in the 2005 Bourneside killings to stay his appeal so that he could seek a new trial based on evidence he said showed he was framed.

Earlier this month, the lawyer for Calvin Carnes, who is serving four consecutive life terms for the killings of four men in a Dorchester basement, told the Supreme Judicial Court that the Suffolk district attorney’s office had for over a year withheld information that potentially cast doubt on his guilt.

On Aug. 13, prosecutors provided Carnes’s lawyer, Ellen Zucker, a February 2009 affidavit from an inmate asserting that Robert Turner, who pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory to the murders, confessed that he was the real killer. Turner was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

On Friday, the Supreme Judicial Court denied that motion for the stay on his appeal without offering an explanation or calling for a hearing. In May, Zucker appealed the 2008 conviction, arguing that the trial judge in the case wrongly dismissed the one juror who believed Carnes was not guilty of the murders. The court is still considering the appeal.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said the decision was a victory for prosecutors, who acted appropriately.

“There was no foundation in the facts, in the evidence, or in the law to support the defendant’s motion,’’ Conley said in a statement. “In contrast, the evidence presented against Calvin Carnes at trial was credible and overwhelming.’’

Zucker said the court’s decision does not affect that appeal, nor does it prevent her from asking the Suffolk Superior Court for a new trial based on the affidavit she received in August.

She said she filed the motion in August to alert the highest court of the affidavit.

“When there is newly discovered evidence, I think it is incumbent upon either party to bring it to the attention of the courts,’’ Zucker said. “It is our argument that [prosecutors] took a precious long time in bringing this information to light. We did not want to do likewise.’’

In their opposing motion, prosecutors argued that the inmate, Craig Smith, who is serving two consecutive life sentences, lied to investigators about what he knew in order to be transferred from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security one.

The release of the affidavit took so long, prosecutors said, because investigators needed to look into Smith’s statements and wait to see if more witnesses would come forward. Also, if Smith was telling the truth, they had to allow more time for Turner to make additional incriminating statements.

Prosecutors said there were also delays because they needed to coordinate schedules with Turner’s lawyer before they could interview Turner.

Prosecutors said they learned that after Smith was convicted in 2007 of murder, he tried to convince detectives he had information on seven other murders but would not cooperate unless guaranteed a reduced sentence.

“Homicide detectives and Suffolk County prosecutors decided not to work with Smith because they deemed him unreliable and untrustworthy based on his extensive criminal history and the fact that he was giving inaccurate and incomplete information,’’ the prosecutors’ motion said.

Zucker said she is not discouraged by prosecutors’ characterization of Smith.

“Prosecutors use jailhouse snitches all the time when they’re seeking prosecution of somebody,’’ she said. “In each case, they have a profile not dissimilar to Mr. Smith. It would be very curious if the district attorney took the standard they’re applying to Mr. Smith and applied it to every jailhouse snitch they put on the stand to try to get a conviction.’’

The Dec. 13, 2005, killings ended the lives of three members of a rap group known as Graveside and their friend, visiting their recording studio on Bourneside Street. It was the city’s worst shooting in 10 years.

Carnes was convicted by a jury of killing Jason Bachiller, 21; Jihad Chankhour, 22; Edwin “E.J.’’ Duncan, 21; and Christopher Vieira, 19. Prosecutors said Carnes shot the men because he wanted a 9mm Glock pistol Vieira legally owned. Carnes took the gun from Vieira, shot him, then turned the gun on the three others as they tried to run away, prosecutors said.

Turner admitted he watched as Carnes shot the victims.

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.

Connect with Boston.com

Twitter Follow us on @BostonUpdate, other Twitter accounts