Supreme Judicial Court (May 8, 2007)
In a murder trial, the jury's failure to check the felony-murder box does not operate as a conviction or as an acquittal.
During the defendant's trial for first degree murder, the jury returned the verdict slip, which listed separately the three theories of murder in the first degree. The jury checked the boxes for deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty, but left blank the box for felony-murder. The defendant appealed and the SJC set aside his conviction.
The defendant was retried. At the second trial, the jury convicted him on all three theories. The defendant appealed, arguing that the jury's silence on the felony-murder theory at the first trial was effectively an acquittal on that theory for purposes of double jeopardy, and should not have been submitted to the jury on retrial. The SJC affirmed the defendant's conviction, reasoning that courts have refused to imply an acquittal unless a conviction of one crime logically excludes the guilt of another. A jury's intent cannot be discerned from its silence.