A Suffolk Superior Court judge Thursday halted a murder trial after being told that two of the potential witnesses were stabbed during an outbreak of violence in downtown Boston Wednesday. That decision came during jury selection — nine jurors had been selected.
Judge Linda Giles said she felt she had no choice — two of the four men stabbed in that brazen daylight fight were on the witness lists of both the prosecution and one of the defendants. The judge said she reluctantly ordered a continuance because both potential witnesses remain hospitalized. One was stabbed in the back, the other in the colon.
Giles called her decision a terrible precedent, sending a message that violence can delay a trial.
"I represent Terrell Rainey and I'm not happy with this," said defense attorney Stephen Weymouth. Weymouth was the only attorney who wanted the trial to go forward. His client, Rainey, has been held without bail since Rainey and a co-defendant were arrested in May 2010 in the shooting death of a 24-year-old woman in Dorchester.
"It's been 25 months, my client has been insisting that he's not guilty," Weymouth said.
Weymouth agrees with Giles that delaying this case sets a terrible precedent.
"I think that it does, especially when people who know what happened and can relate it to one of these murder cases, and can delay it indefinitely, the possibility exists that that is a very dangerous precedent," he said.
"There's no clear-cut answer to the right thing to do," said former Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein. He said the judge made the right decision, but he cautions in the wrong hands, delaying a trial because of attacks on witnesses is a bad precedent.
"It is a bad message to send," he said. "On the other hand, what are you supposed to do, pretend that these witnesses were not hurt, because they now become unavailable."
A new trial date has been set for September 12.
This program aired on June 7, 2012.