The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld Keith Hobbs's first-degree murder sentence for the Dec. 16, 2010 death of Demetrius Blocker on Horadan Way.
Hobbs had appealed his 2015 conviction - at which prosecutors argued Blocker died in a case of mistaken identity since he had no known connection to gangs or crime - on several grounds, including what he said was Boston Police's lack of probable cause to obtain a warrant for the location data from his cell phone - which placed him near the murder scene around the time of the murder.
But the court ruled that three months after the murder, when police obtained the warrant, they had more than enough probable cause to suspect Hobbs and seek his phone data - including a call from his brother, who identified him from the video police released to the public and local TV stations (the brother recanted his identification at Hobbs's trial).
After the footage of the suspect was released to the public, a man called police and positively identified the suspect in the footage as being his brother, the defendant. The defendant's brother also gave police a telephone number that he claimed was the telephone number for the defendant's cell phone. The defendant's association with the telephone number was thereafter corroborated by the defendant's former girlfriend. These facts demonstrated the requisite nexus between the [location data] and the killing.
The court did say that police went too far in seeking nearly three months' of location data - the court has previously said location data is protected under state privacy laws and so warrants for it must be limited - but said that in the end, the extra data did not affect Hobbs's case, because prosecutors only presented data from the date of the murder.
The court also rejected arguments by Hobbs' lawyer that errors by prosecutors or by the judge in allowing some testimony requires a new trial, either individually or because cumulatively, they constituted a grave violation of Hobbs's rights. The court said some of the instances were not errors and that others were minor enough that they did could not have influenced the jury's deliberations.