For Immediate Release - March 12, 2007

First Degree Murder Conviction Upheld

The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Richard Carlson, 53, of Beverly, for the July 31, 2000 murder of his live-in girlfriend, Dyan Ponessa of Beverly. The jury had returned the first degree verdict on the theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Kathe Tuttman, now a Justice of the Superior Court, presented evidence that Carlson beat Ms. Ponessa to death because she was unable or unwilling to go to an ATM to get money for him to pay off drug dealers who were coming to their apartment.

On appeal Assistant District Attorney Kenneth E. Steinfield argued that the jury properly heard about previous incidents in which the defendant assaulted Ms. Ponessa. He also argued that there was no error in the admission of evidence that the defendant did not cry soon after the murder. In an opinion written by Justice Howard Spina, the Court accepted these contentions and rejected the defendant's other claims as well.

Judge Peter W. Agnes sentenced the defendant to life in prison without possibility of parole, the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder.