Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe announced the following with respect to today's ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Steven Stewart. The SJC overturned the Barnstable County Superior Court jury's guilty finding of first degree murder of Steven Stewart after a trial in 2005 for the contract killing of Frances Carriere in January of 1980.
"While we disagree with the ruling, we respect the Court's opinion and will review the decision and follow through with the appropriate action."
The SJC held that the only remedy a Trial Court has when faced with a witness who refuses to take the oath to tell the truth is to hold that witness in contempt. The Court stated, "We recognize, as did the judge, that a finding of contempt and the accompanying sanction is unlikely to have impact on an inmate already serving a sentence of life without parole." The witness in question, Robert Hoeg, was convicted of first degree murder in an unrelated case. The SJC has ordered a new trial.
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