Gunman Pleads Guilty in 2010 Homicide

BOSTON, Jan. 31, 2018—A year after a divided Supreme Judicial Court reversed his conviction for shooting 28-year-old Senai Williams to death during a fight, a Roxbury man pleaded guilty to the 2010 homicide rather than face a second trial, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury in 2012 convicted JAMES ALLEN (D.O.B. 8/30/88) of second-degree murder, but the state’s highest court reversed that decision last year after a majority of the court found the trial judge’s instruction on defense of another to be flawed. Today, over seven years after Williams’ shooting death on Homestead Street, Allen pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and accepted a sentence of 13 to 17 years in state prison.

“Throughout the history of this case, Mr. Williams’ family has been a source of strength and inspiration,” Conley said. “They remind us at every turn was a special young man he was, how well he was loved by those who knew him, and what we all lost when his life was taken. I hope they can take some comfort in the finality of this result and the defendant’s unequivocal admission of guilt.”

Prior to imposing the sentence, Judge Christine Roach heard impact statements from members of Williams’ family.

“Senai was loving, he was kind, he was caring,” his older sister told the court. “Senai was the kind of guy, you could have talked everything out. Instead, you threw your life away. You took something from us that everyone loved.”

Had the case proceeded to trial a second time, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Hickman would have sought to prove that Williams was involved in a minor altercation with a second man on the afternoon of Nov. 18, 2010 that ended in pushing and shoving.

The evidence showed that this confrontation sparked another incident in which Allen – who was armed with a handgun – accompanied a group to the Homestead Street scene, where the conflict would be settled with a fistfight. At some point, however, a knife was introduced. No one was injured, but within seconds Allen pulled out his firearm, aimed it at Williams, and fired one shot. Williams was struck, suffering a fatal injury.

Boston Police officers and paramedics responded to the scene. Williams was rushed to Boston Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Witnesses provided homicide detectives with descriptions of the suspects and additional information that led to Allen’s identification as the gunman.

In 2016, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered a new trial, writing that the trial judge “failed to adequately distinguish between ‘justification and mitigation’” in his instruction to the jury on defense of another. In a dissent, the chief justice of the SJC opined differently, writing that “the judge’s instructions [were] consistent with the Model Jury Instructions on Homicide that were in effect at the time of trial, which were no clearer than the judge’s instructions …. The judge’s instructions regarding this challenging issue were not a model of clarity, but they were not erroneous.”

Katherine Moran was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Allen was represented by attorney James Budreau.




All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.