The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has upheld the conviction of a former Dedham police officer who took part in the kidnapping of a man in 2014.
According to the SJC’s summary of the facts, Michael Schoener was employed as a police officer in the town of Dedham in 2013. During that time, he provided his drug supplier with a Dedham police badge, gun holster, handcuffs, and probation records for a man named James Robertson.
The drug dealer gave these items to two accomplices who went to Robertson’s home and, posing as police officers, took him into custody.
They brought Robertson to a garage where the drug dealer was waiting. The accomplices shackled Robertson to a chair in the garage and left him alone with the drug dealer.
Later that evening the accomplices returned to the scene, finding Robertson dead. They disposed of the body in the woods where it was found one year later.
The drug dealer and the accomplices were charged with kidnapping and first degree murder.
Former police officer Schoener was charged with being an accessory before the fact to kidnapping under M.G.L. c. 265, § 26.
After being convicted by a jury, Schoener appealed to the SJC claiming that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knew of the plan to kidnap Robertson.
The key issue, according to the SJC, was
What constitutes sufficient evidence of knowledge and intent to support a conviction of accomplice liability to kidnapping.
The SJC concluded that, in the present case,
the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly participated in the kidnapping by providing the items to [his drug dealer] and, in so doing, shared [the drug dealer’s] intent that the kidnapping take place.