20-year-old Jason Denison and 20-year-old Jonathan Flores, both of New Bedford, Massachusetts, have been charged with murder in connection with a gun battle last month that fatally injured an innocent bystander.
The incident began when a crowd gathered to watch a prearranged fistfight between two women. An argument broke out between Denison and Flores and another man. Reports indicate that Denison chased the two men and shot at them with a handgun. Flores fired back. The bullet missed Denison but did strike bystander 20-year-old Michael Pina. Pina was shot in the head and died four days later.
Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said that a 2001 state appeals court case makes it clear that Denison and Flores "can and should be charged with murder."
The case, Commonwealth vs. Santiago, said a defendant who engages in a gun battle where a bystander is killed can be held liable for homicide even if the defendant's opponent fired the fatal shot. The ruling stated: "By choosing to engage in a shootout, a defendant may be the cause of a shooting by either side because the death of a bystander is a natural result of a shootout, and the shootout could not occur without participation from both sides."
Denison has also been charged with armed assault with intent to murder, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building and obstruction of justice. Flores has also been charged with possession of a firearm without a license, carrying a loaded firearms and possession of a firearm without an FID card.