An Army veteran was charged with Assault with Intent to Murder following the use of his firearm in self-defense. The man developed a friendship with a young girl with a known heroin addiction. He attempted to assist her by leasing her an apartment and providing her with financial support. One evening, the veteran received a call from the girl’s mother who complained that her ex-boyfriend was in the apartment and being physically abusive. The ex-boyfriend also had a heroin addiction. On the night in question, police were called and visited the apartment for a complaint of a domestic disturbance. Upon arrival, the girl and her ex-boyfriend were using intravenous drugs. To conceal their activity, they lied to police that there was no domestic incident. Once policed left, the man resumed his violent and abusive behavior by choking and punching the woman in her face, as well as striking her mother repeatedly. The women’s injuries were visible and photographed. In fear for her and her daughter’s safety, the mother phoned the veteran for help.
The veteran answered the call for help by driving to the apartment. The unit was in his name. He paid the rent and the ex-boyfriend had no right to be there. Upon arrival, the veteran entered the apartment building thru a common access door and hallway. He ascended the stairs to the apartment. Once he entered, he was immediately attacked by the deranged ex-boyfriend. The man knocked the older veteran to the ground and attacked him with kicks and punches. The veteran was unable to defend himself. While on the ground and under attack, he noticed he was bleeding from his face. In fear for his life, the veteran drew his lawfully possessed and licensed firearm. He pointed the gun at the enraged ex-boyfriend and told him to “stop.” The man persisted in his attack. Still in fear for his life, the veteran fired one shot, striking the man in the stomach. The veteran then climbed to his feet, went outside to his vehicle and called 9-1-1. He requested the presence of police and rescue workers. The veteran then disarmed himself and remained on scene to await the arrival of emergency responders. Once they arrived, he was fully cooperative with police. Despite his actions and explanation for discharging his weapon, police placed him under arrest for Assault with Intent to Murder.
The veteran retained Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney, John L. Calcagni III, to defend him in this matter. At arraignment, the veteran was held without bail following the Commonwealth’s motion for pretrial detention on dangerousness grounds. This was due to the charged offense of Assault with Intent to Murder. The motion alleged that no condition or combination of conditions would assure the safety of the community upon the man’s release. The Court had no discretion and ordered the man held without bail pending the outcome of a hearing. The case then proceeded to a dangerousness hearing. Attorney Calcagni developed the facts, as stated above, on cross-examination of the Commonwealth’s single police witness. He also offered information of his client’s background such as residential history in Massachusetts, employment, family, children, lack of criminal history, military history, law enforcement experience and firearms training. Attorney Calcagni offered evidence that the man lawfully owned and possessed a firearm on the day of the incident. He not only had a license to carry the weapon, but also a reputation for always actually carrying it. This was offered to offset any argument that the man deliberately armed himself before going to the girl’s apartment where he shot her ex-boyfriend. Despite Attorney Calcagni’s best efforts, the District Court ordered the veteran’s continued detention without bail.
Attorney Calcagni and his client appealed the District Court’s adverse bail decision. This was done by filing a bail petition in the Superior Court. Attorney Calcagni appeared before the Superior Court for oral argument regarding the petition. After considering all evidence and argument for and against the veteran’s release, the Court sided with Attorney Calcagni. It overturned the District Court decision and ultimately set cash bail with certain conditions that have since resulted in the veteran’s release.