BROCKTON — The state Court of Appeals has ruled against a Brockton man who remains in jail despite being found not guilty of murder. This is the latest in a series of legal losses for Jaime Resende.
The Court of Appeal rejected Resende’s argument that he had ineffective counsel when a jury found him not guilty of the murder of Nelson Pina of Brockton. Despite this exoneration, two previous convictions for theft in the same incident remain on the books.
“To the extent that his present argument differs from his appeal arguments, we discern no miscarriage of justice,” the Court of Appeals judges wrote in a May 13 ruling.
District Attorney Tim Cruz applauded the decision in a statement Thursday.
“This is a just sentence and we only hope Mr. Pina’s family will find peace and no longer be victimized by these baseless claims,” Cruz said.
In an email to supporters and the media, Resende’s attorney, Mary LaCivita, wrote that “Jaime continues to be as optimistic as he always is and says to remind everyone that this is not is just another step.”
Resende’s defense team asked the Court of Appeal to reconsider its decision. In a motion filed Friday, May 27, LaCivita argues that the attorney representing Resende when he was found not guilty of murder should have pushed for that acquittal to apply to the underlying charges of attempted robbery. armed and unarmed robbery.
“It was a gross and material failure for the lawyer [Jonathan] Shapiro to remain silent following the NOT GUILTY verdict on February 13, 2015,” the motion reads. “As a direct result of Shapiro’s inability to defend his client at that time, that day, Resende remains unlawfully imprisoned.
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Court of Appeal judges quickly dismissed the request for reconsideration, issuing their decision on Tuesday. LaCivita said she was working with Resende to ask the state Supreme Judicial Court to appeal.
Pina, 34, was shot and killed at his home at 405 Plain St. late Nov. 16 or early Nov. 17, 2006, in an attempted theft of cash and drugs. Police said they found $48,000 in cash in Pina’s basement, plus a small amount of cannabis, which at the time was illegal. There was also a log of what prosecutors believed to be drug cases.
The first jury to hear the case, in 2010, convicted Resende and Kenston Scott of first-degree murder. Resende appealed, winning a second trial in which jurors cleared him of the murder charge. Scott was sentenced to life without parole.
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Resende’s setbacks in court since his second trial include a 2017 ruling by the state’s highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court. He rejected Resende’s argument that he had been placed in double jeopardy, which is unconstitutional.
Cruz, the Plymouth County prosecutor, said he and his office are keeping Pina and her surviving family members in the forefront of their thoughts.
“Our job as prosecutors is to present the facts,” Cruz said in Thursday’s statement. “A conviction is solely within the jurisdiction of the jury. And we all have a duty to respect the presence of the jury at trial, the consideration given to all the evidence and the deliberations that resulted in a unanimous verdict of guilty for the crimes of Armed Home Invasion and Armed Assault with Intent to Rob Mr. Pina.”
Resende is serving a 20-22 year sentence for armed home invasion and 18-20 years for assault with a weapon with intent to steal. These are concurrent, meaning he is serving his sentence for both at the same time. He is currently in Shirley State Prison.
Resende’s cause has drawn support from social justice groups, including the DARRC Coalition, which devotes a section of its website to Resende’s case.
Cruz detailed all the ways the courts have dismissed Resende’s appeals.
“Mr Resende’s challenge to his convictions has been reviewed and dismissed on appeal by the Supreme Judicial Court, the Commonwealth’s highest court of appeal. And most recently, by Judge Angel Kelly here at Brockton Superior Court. Now the Court of Appeals has spoken, and I commend them for their thoughtful decision,” Cruz said.
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