Victims Were Boy, 14, and Convenience Store Clerk
BOSTON, Feb. 12, 2014—The state’s highest court today affirmed the first-degree murder convictions of the man who gunned down 14-year-old DaKeem Galloway in 2004 as well as the man who shot and killed Getasetegn Yalew during a 1997 convenience store robbery, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the conviction of CHARON RAY (D.O.B. 7/16/87), who was 16 when he shot Galloway in the back of the head on June 10, 2004, during an ongoing feud between two rival groups of friends. The justices ordered that his life sentence will remain in place, but that because of his age at the time of slaying, he must be allowed the possibility of parole in light of their December ruling that life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional for defendants under 18 who commit first-degree murder.
In a separate decision, the court also affirmed the conviction of RICKY McGEE, who was convicted of the shooting Yalew in the back of the head as the convenience store clerk lay on the ground at McGee’s instruction during an April 16, 1997, hold-up in the Fenway.
“Our cases don’t end at arrest, at indictment, or even at trial,” Conley said. “They only end when appeals are exhausted and the jury’s verdict is upheld.”
Ray was convicted in 2007 of shooting Galloway in the back of the head as the victim and a group of friends walked to a bus stop, taking a longer route than usual in an attempt to avoid a rival group with whom Ray was aligned.
Among his arguments in his appeal, Ray claimed that the closure of the courtroom during jury selection and a sign-in procedure in the courtroom during the course of the trial – steps taken because gang members sought to disrupt the proceedings – violated his right to a public trial. The justices found that a requirement that spectators present identification upon entering the courtroom was minimally intrusive and necessary to combat the risk of intimidation in the courthouse. Prosecutors had petitioned for the requirement in response to safety concerns voiced by witnesses.
The court also found no merit to Ray’s claims that his trial attorney was ineffective, that the judge erred in allowing certain statements made by Ray to be presented in court, that the judge abused her discretion in not allowing a continuance requested by the defense, and that a juror who appeared to be sleeping at times during the course of the trial should not have been allowed to participate in deliberations.
“The evidence at a full, fair trial showed that this violent gang member stalked and murdered a young boy who took every step to avoid a confrontation,” Conley said. “We will argue that he deserves every day of his life sentence.”
In the aftermath of Ray’s trial, Conley’s office indicted one of his associates, KYRICE GRADY (D.O.B. 9/26/85), for perjury for lying to the Suffolk County Grand Jury and at trial. On the fifth anniversary of Galloway’s murder, Grady was convicted and sentenced to a term of six to eight years in state prison.
In the second case affirmed today, the high court rejected McGee’s argument that he was entitled to a new trial based what he claimed was newly available testimony and evidence that he believed was improperly introduced at his 1998 trial.
McGee was convicted after two of his friends testified, including one who recounted that he made detailed admissions regarding the robbery and murder. That witness’ testimony that McGee came home with food stamps, a large amount of change, and only one glove was consistent with evidence at the store and the recovery of a similar glove from an alleyway leading from the area of the store to the apartment building in which McGee lived.
At trial, prosecutors also introduced a photograph found in the defendant’s bedroom showing an acquaintance of his holding two guns, one of which a ballistics expert testified belonged to a class of weapons capable of firing the bullet that killed Yalew. The high court ruled that the expert’s testimony was properly allowed, as the expert did not offer any opinion on whether the gun in the photograph was the murder weapon.
The defendant claimed on appeal that two witnesses who asserted their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves by testifying at McGee’s 1998 trial are now available to testify, entitling him to a new trial. The justices disagreed with the defendant’s conclusion and found that the testimony expected from the two witnesses was unlikely to impact the jury’s findings.
Assistant District Attorneys Helle Sachese and Amanda Teo of the DA’s Appellate Unit represented the Commonwealth on the appeals. Ray was represented by attorney Robert F. Shay Jr., and McGee by David A.F. Lewis.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.