BOSTON (AP/WHDH) — A man with cancer awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge can remain free amid the coronavirus pandemic, a judge on Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Tuesday.
William James Utley, 40, was released from jail after his attorney argued his health condition makes him more susceptible to the virus. He is under home confinement with a GPS monitor.
Utley is accused of stabbing a man during a bar fight in 2018.
Prosecutors claim he committed this crime along with five counts of operating under the influence while out on $8,500 bail and wearing a GPS monitor from gun charges stemming back to 2016.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins had asked the Supreme Judicial Court to order that Utley be returned to jail, calling him a danger to the community.
“I think he has proven that he cannot comport with rules,” she said. “he has had 13 defaults in the past criminal history and he committed a murder while out on GPS I cannot in good faith and conscience allow that to happen.”
Justice Elspeth Cypher denied that request, saying Utley faces a “high risk of critical illness or death” if he gets the virus.
“I stand proudly by my team’s extraordinary effort to address threats to the safety of our communities in Suffolk County. Yesterday’s ruling is disappointing as Mr. Utley had a lengthy default record. But more concerning is that a Suffolk County grand jury had recently returned an indictment against Mr. Utley for a murder he committed while out on $8,500 bail and GPS monitoring,” Rollins said in a statement.
Rollins added, “I will always fight for the safety of the people of Suffolk County and sincerely hope that Mr. Utley causes no further harm to our community. My office now returns to the hard work of honoring and serving the real victims in this case, Mr. Anthony Young and his family. We have Mr. Utley’s three felony trials to prepare for. Suffolk County deserves no less.”
Utley’s attorney said that due to his client’s Leukemia, he is n the highest risk group for contracting the deadly virus.
“Two courts have now agreed that Mr. Utley deserves the opportunity to self-isolate in a private apartment rather than risk near-certain death from COVID-19 at the Nashua Street Jail,” the attorney said in a statement. “Notably, the SJC also recognized that the evidence against him for the two more serious charges was weak. Mr. Utley will remain focused on his health for the duration of crisis”
Utley is staying in Boston.
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