Massachusetts SJC affirms first-degree murder conviction in 1999 of Enez Kolenovic, formerly of Ware
In a unanimous decision on Oct. 18, 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the first-degree murder conviction in 1999 of Enez Kolenovic, formerly of Ware, in the stabbing death of David Walker.
(The published opinion can be seen at : https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/10/18/08047.pdf)
The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office was represented on appeal by Thomas H. Townsend, Chief of the Appellate Division; the defendant was represented by Attorney Michael R. Schneider, of Boston.
The decision affirms the 1999 conviction for murder which occurred in Ware in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16, 1996. According to the prosecution, the defendant slit Mr. Walker’s throat and stabbed him several times in retaliation because Mr. Walker had earlier reprimanded the defendant for throwing a drink in a woman’s face.
The defendant was represented at trial by Attorney Vincent Bongiorni, of Springfield. The defense focused on the defendant’s alcohol intoxication at the time of the killing. A Hampshire County jury convicted the defendant of murder by extreme atrocity or cruelty. Superior Court Judge Mary-Lou Rup sentenced the defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After the trial, the defendant retained the services of Attorney Schneider and Harvard Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz. Several years of hearings followed, after which Judge Rup allowed a motion for a new trial based on the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial for not presenting a defense of posttraumatic stress disorder. The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, represented by ADA Townsend, successfully appealed that ruling to the SJC, which reinstated the murder conviction in 2015.
Kolenovic then appealed the reinstated conviction, raising a variety of issues relating to the trial.
In the Oct. 17, 2017 opinion authored by Associate Justice Kimberly S. Budd, the SJC concluded that Attorney Bongiorni provided the effective assistance of counsel in presenting an alcohol-intoxication defense. The opinion also held that Judge Rup correctly instructed the jury on murder by extreme atrocity or cruelty and properly declined the defendant’s invitation to reduce the conviction from murder in the first degree to murder in the second degree.
The Court’s decision stated that “weight of the evidence” showed that “the defendant knew what was happening around him and what he was doing that night. As a result, the defendant has failed to show that the weight of the evidence was against a finding of extreme atrocity or cruelty such that a lesser degree of guilt or a new trial would be more consonant with justice.”
Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan praised the decision.
“We are very pleased with the decision. The SJC’s well-reasoned opinion finally brings closure to a murder prosecution that has been active in this office for over 20 years.”