A 35-year-old man was convicted today of gunning down four people, including a 2-year-old cradled in his mother’s arms, in cold blood on a Mattapan street in September 2010, a heartless crime that had sent shock waves through the city.
Dwayne Moore was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder, as well as home invasion, and armed robbery. He was acquitted of three other charges. Sentencing was set for Tuesday morning, but the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison with no chance for parole.
“I’m just happy. I hope everybody else is happy,” Patricia Washum-Garrison, mother of victim Levaughn Washum-Garrison, said as she rushed out of the courtroom. “Now they can rest.”
Moore was being tried for a second time; his first trial had ended in March with a hung jury and an acquittal for his co-defendant.
As today’s verdict was read, Moore blinked rapidly and then closed his eyes. He shook his head repeatedly and furrowed his eyebrows.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley prosecutors were “satisfied and pleased” with the outcome. “They reached a fair and just verdict in this case,” he said.
Moore’s attorney, John Amabile, vowed to appeal. “Dwayne Moore has vociferously denied any involvement in the crime. ... I’m deeply disappointed in the decision of the jury,” he said.
Moore was convicted of the Sept. 28, 2010 slayings on Woolson Street of Levaughn Washum-Garrison, 22; Washum-Garrison’s friend, 21-year-old Simba Martin; Martin’s girlfriend, Eyanna Flonory, 21; and her 2-year-old son, Amanihotep Smith. Moore was also charged with shooting a fifth person, Marcus Hurd, who survived but was left paralyzed.
The slayings came after a drug-related home invasion and armed robbery at Martin’s home on nearby Sutton Street. Washum-Garrison was spending the night on Martin’s couch; Hurd had stopped by to buy some marijuana.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke thanked the jury for their service. “You have given us your time. You have given your attention. You have given us your good judgment,” he said.
The verdict came after jurors had appeared to be inching closer to a deadlock once again. The jurors sent a note to Judge Locke shortly before noon today saying one juror wasn’t convinced that prosecutors had proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
But shortly before 4 p.m., the jury came back to the courtroom with a unanimous verdict.
Moore had been convicted of killing somebody before. In 1996, Moore, then 19, was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal stabbing of a Milton teen, and was sentenced to 16 to 18 years in prison, according to court records.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino issued a statement, saying, “While nothing can undo the horrific violence that occurred in Mattapan in 2010, it is my hope that today’s ruling will give some comfort to the families of these victims, their friends and our neighbors that justice has been served.”
Menino said that from Mattapan to Friday’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., “gun violence is a cancer infecting our society” and he called for “a national policy on guns that takes away the loopholes in the laws and removes automatic weapons from our neighborhoods.”
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said the crime was “both senseless and tragic in nature and scope.”
“Today, the system showed its resiliency with the return of guilty verdicts against the defendant Dwayne Moore. I would like to commend all those who remained steadfast and strong in their pursuit of justice and it’s my sincere hope that today’s guilty verdicts will bring to the families impacted by this terrible tragedy some small measure of comfort and relief,” Davis said in a statement.
The road was not smooth for the jury in the Mattapan massacre case. They were bused in every day from Worcester because the defense had raised questions about whether Moore could get a fair trial with jurors drawn from Suffolk County, where the case had made headlines and stirred outrage.
The jury, which has been together since mid-October, had to restart deliberations twice last week: Once after a juror was ousted on Dec. 10 for investigating the case on his own, and again on Thursday. after a juror was released to be at his gravely ill brother’s bedside in Georgia.
Earlier today, before the jury began deliberations, Amabile, the defense attorney, told the judge that he feared the murders of 20 children and six adults Friday in an elementary school in Connecticut would influence jurors in Moore’s trial.
“This has a tremendous ability to generate sympathy for a child,” Amabile told Locke.
Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin told Locke that he understood the concerns of Amabile and of the judge, but added that he believed jurors could reach their verdicts based on the legal instructions Locke has already given them.
From the bench, Locke ruled it was necessary for him to provide jurors with new instructions given the appearance Sunday night of President Obama in Newtown, Conn., and the national debate on gun violence and mental health issues spawned by the murder spree.
“Please put this out of your mind on deliberations in this case,’’ Locke told jurors, adding that if any juror felt they could not continue to deliberate in a fair and impartial way they should notify a court officer in writing.
The prosecution case had hinged on a less than perfect witness. Kimani Washington testified that he participated in the armed home invasion that preceded the killings, but said he left before the killing began.
Washington, 37, acknowledged he was a flawed man who robbed drug dealers and lied to police but said he was horrified that the robbery had resulted in the death of a young child and his mother.
Washington agreed to testify against Moore in exchange for a reduced sentence of 16 to 18 years on armed robbery charges.
In closing arguments, Amabile suggested that Washington himself was instead the shooter. He also assailed Washington’s credibility, saying he was a “snake oil salesman” who had lied to get a reduced sentence.
But prosecutors said Washington’s testimony was corroborated by other evidence and that “name-calling” and “character assassination” should play no role in the jury’s deliberations.Brian Ballou can be reached at BBallou@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBallou