Prunty Conviction Upheld by SJC
District Attorney Michael O'Keefe announced today that the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the February 2006 conviction of Daniel J. Prunty, of Sandwich, MA. Prunty was convicted of Murder in the first degree, Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon and Attempted Extortion of the victim, Jason Wells. The convictions arose from an altercation at the defendant's home on August 7, 2004, during which Prunty fatally shot the victim.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial judge, Hon. Gary A. Nickerson, erred in rejecting the defendant's exercise of a peremptory challenge attempting to strike the only apparent African-American member of the jury during empanelment. The Commonwealth objected to the exclusion of the juror. The SJC, in its opinion, rejected the defendant's claim and found that the jury was fairly selected and representative.
The SJC also rejected a claim that the trial court erred in giving a limiting instruction as to the use of prior inconsistent statements elicited on cross-examination of one of the Commonwealth's witnesses.
Prunty was sentenced to life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, on the First-degree Murder conviction, to 12-15 years in state prison on the conviction for Attempted Extortion, and to 7-10 years in state prison on the Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon conviction to be served concurrently with the Attempted Extortion charge.
The appeal was handled by Assistant District Attorney Thomas G. Shack.