EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 17, 2013

Supreme Judicial Court tosses man's conviction in fatal shooting


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON (AP) — Yesterday the highest court in Massachusetts overturned the second-degree murder conviction of a man charged with killing a 19-year-old Springfield woman when he fired shots through her front window because he thought someone living there had stolen his TV.

Daniel Horne was convicted in the 2009 death of Brittany Perez.

Authorities said he fired eight rifle bullets into Perez’s home, hitting her in the head. Prosecutors said the TV wasn’t in her home and there was no indication she was involved with the theft.

The Supreme Judicial Court overturned Horne’s conviction Monday, finding that the trial judge should have instructed the jury on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter because the jury reasonably could have found that Horne did not know the room was occupied when he fired through the window.

The high court found that because Perez was standing in front of a window covered by blinds and dark curtains, Horne could not have seen into the room and therefore did not know anyone was there. An involuntary manslaughter instruction must be given to the jury if a reasonable view of the evidence would have allowed the jury to find a defendant’s conduct was “wanton and reckless” rather than actions from which a “plain and strong likelihood” of death would follow, the court found.

The court said Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni has the option of asking to have Horne sentenced on involuntary manslaughter or can retry him for second-degree murder. Mastroianni did not immediately return a call seeking comment.