This past Saturday police in Lynn, Massachusetts responding to a crime scene saw a man walking down a set of stairs with a knife protruding from his neck. The man was covered with blood. The victim and the defendant, Shawn Doherty of Lynn were friends since high school. The victim claimed that on Friday night the two were together. He asked Doherty to leave before his roommate came home. He then fell asleep on a couch only to wake up to Doherty on top of him and stabbing him. The victim claimed that Doherty stabbed him twice and punched him in the mouth. The motive behind the incident has not been identified. The attorney for Doherty argued that the inconsistencies in the victim’s story were extensive. He also argued that the victim suggested several motives for the attack. The case is pending in the Lynn District Court. The charges at this point appear to be Assault and Battery Dangerous Weapon and Assault With the Intent to Commit Murder. Both are felonies in Massachusetts.
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The first thing that a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer sees when reading about this case is the incredibility of the victim’s story. His story that he fell asleep on a couch only to wake up to Doherty beating and stabbing him lacks a ring of truth. Why would anybody wake anyone up to stab him. It makes no sense. If Doherty really wanted to stab the victim wouldn’t you think he would do so while the person slept rather than wake him up to stab him. And if the motive, as suggested by this article was the victim’s ten thousand dollar automobile claim settlement check wouldn’t you expect Doherty to simply take it while the victim was sleeping rather than waking him up to stab him and take it? Doherty’s attorney referenced the victim’s differing accounts of the case as well. Defense attorneys love this particularly where the inconsistencies arise early in the investigation of the case. If the victim cannot even tell the truth at the time the police make their initial interview of him how will he be able to maintain consistency at the time this case goes to trial? He probably won’t.
So what really happened here? Well it appears that Doherty might have some sort of self-defense claim as set out by his lawyer at the arraignment. The victim’s inconsistent statements might just support this defense. The bigger question is whether or not Doherty’s actions exceeded that which is permissible in self-defense cases. In Massachusetts one can only use the force necessary to protect himself from the actions of the initial aggressor. Also in Massachusetts the defense can in some circumstances use instances of the victim’s prior acts of aggression to support that self-defense position.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman defends the accused in Lynn, Massachusetts and throughout Massachusetts. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email to discuss your criminal case.