Milton, MA – Two men formerly from Boston pled guilty in Norfolk Superior Court to a charge of manslaughter in the 1994 shooting of a Milton man, closing a case that was tried to conviction in 2003 but overturned by the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in 2008.
Kenyatte E. Murrell, 41, and Jameel A. Williams, 37, pled guilty to Manslaughter in the ambush shooting death of Gregory Cormier and to Armed Assault with intent to Murder for shooting a passenger in the same car who survived the attack.
Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in state prison. Judge Raymond Brassard adopted the sentence recommendation of 19 1/2 to 20 years in state prison for Murrell and 18 to 20 years in state prison for Williams for the manslaughter, each with concurrent 15 to 20 year state prison sentences for the Armed Assault to Murder.
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey attended the plea hearing, as did members of Cormier’s family. Morrissey indicated he agreed with members of the family who said the original sentence should have remained.
“I do not disagree with the sentiments expressed by the family, both to me personally and in court today, that the conduct of these men merited the punishments imposed in 2003, life in prison without possibility of parole,” Morrissey said.
The prosecution’s key witness, Shawn Castle, who drove the men to the murder scene, was deported to his native Trinidad following the 2003 trial. After the SJC overturned the conviction, Morrissey sent a state police lieutenant to Trinidad to search for Castle, whose whereabouts on the island were unknown.
Over the course of five days, that detective was able to locate Castle but was unsuccessful in convincing him to return to testify. There is no extradition treaty with Trinidad. In addition, one police witness in the 2003 case is dead and another is retired.
“This was a difficult case in 2003,” said Morrissey. “The loss of multiple witnesses, including the driver, left us with the choice between accepting a plea to manslaughter and the very real potential of walking away with a not guilty verdict after another trial.
“We have to deal with the state of the evidence today and make our decisions on that basis.”