Appeals Court (November 15, 2007)
The pointing of a cellular telephone camera at a witness waiting to testify in a criminal proceeding constitutes intimidation of a witness in violation of G.L. c. 268, § 13B.
While awaiting trial for drug-related offenses, the defendant pointed his cell phone at an undercover officer who was in the court house hallway waiting to testify against him. The defendant motioned as though he was taking photos of the officer. After the judge confiscated the phone, the defendant said to the undercover officer, "What do you think I am, fucking stupid? I already emailed the pictures to my house before you took the phone."
At the witness intimidation trial, the undercover officer testified that he feared drug dealers would recognize him if his picture was posted on the Internet, which could pose a safety risk to him and his family. The defendant was convicted of intimidation. On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law to support the verdict.
In affirming the conviction, the Court noted that an action need not be overly threatening to constitute "intimidation." The defendant did not expressly threaten the officer's person, but his action did threaten the officer's continuing safety. A single act is sufficient to satisfy the intimidation statute.