Leaving The Scene Trial – Not Guilty

On St. Patrick’s Day of 2016 QN, a 20 year old laborer from Melrose, went into Cambridge with a friend to celebrate. The friend picked QN up at QN’s house and drove to the T station at Oak Grove in Melrose. The two men took the T into Boston and Cambridge and went to a club (that allows persons under 21 in). While waiting at a T stop to change from the orange line to the red line QN took a selfie of himself and the other fellow. In the selfie QN is wearing a bright Kelly green shirt and has a full beard. After the men were at the club for several hours they left and returned via the T to the Oak Grove Station in Melrose. They got in the other fellows car and they went to Kelly’s in Saugus and ate and then the other fellow drove to QN’s house. QN got out of the car and ran into his house to get the keys to his own car which had been parked on the street. Melrose has an ordinance banning overnight parking on the street. It was now about 1:15 AM. QN moved his car into his driveway and then left his keys and cell phone in his car and proceeded into his house and went to sleep.

Forty-five minutes later QN’s car was involved in a high speed police chase from Lynn into Swampscott. A police car following QN’s vehicle momentarily lost sight of QN’s vehicle after the vehicle crested a hill. Once the police car crested the hill, the police officer observed that QN’s vehicle had horribly crashed into a stone wall. The police officer parked a safe distance behind QN’s crashed vehicle and began to approach the vehicle. The officer then observed a white male with a round face with blondish hair wearing a blue or gray t-shirt exit the vehicle and begin to run. The officer gave chase. The man catapulted over a fence and the officer gave up the chase. The State Police K-9 unit was called in and for two hours the police and dogs searched the area but found no one. The Officer went back to his police car and ran the registration plate on QN’s car in his mobile data terminal (MBT). The response from the Registry gave QN’s name and address and also furnished a color photo of QN from his driver’s license. The photo showed a white male with a round face and blond hair. At the trial of the case the officer testified that when he saw the picture on his MBT he said to himself – “Damn, that’s him”.

QN was charged with Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Accident and Negligent Operation and Refusing to Stop for a Police Officer. QN and his family retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. QN insisted that after he left his car in the driveway at 1:15 AM he did not drive it and that he was in bed. QN insisted that his car was stolen.

In his initial police report the officer never mentioned viewing the photo of QN on his MBT; he never mentioned the round face and he never said that the person running from the car had a full beard.

On October 24 and 25 the case was tried in Lynn District Court to a jury of six persons. Attorney Lewin had the picture that QN had taken that night with the bright Kelly green shirt and the beard. The officer identified QN in the Courtroom as the man he saw fleeing the car. The officer testified that he was certain in his identification. On cross-examination Attorney Lewin was able to bring out that the officer had only a one-quarter side glance of the man fleeing the car and that the glance had been for 1-2 seconds only. Attorney Lewin got the officer to testify that the that he did not recall seeing any facial hair on the man and he did not note any facial hair in his police report. Attorney Lewin argued all the facts to the jury and stressed the two major discrepancies in the officers identification: the beard and the Kelly green shirt. That selfie picture saved the day for QN because it captured his appearance that very night. The case went to the jury and it took the jury twenty-eight minutes to find QN not guilty.

 

Had QN been found guilty he would have lost his license for one year as he had a prior Negligent Operation conviction. QN and his family left the Lynn District Courthouse thrilled that he had been found not guilty.