Monday, May 20, 2024


The state’s highest court has rejected an appeal for a new trial by the man who killed retired Cambridge Police Officer Myles “Tony” Lawton and tried to kill a second man, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.

In a 32-page decision by Chief Justice Ralph Gants, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the 2009 convictions of Michael “Goody” Collins, 35, for second-degree murder, armed assault with intent to murder and unlawful possession of a firearm in the fatal shooting death of Lawton, 62, and the nonfatal shooting of a second man.

Collins was convicted to life in prison for shooting Lawton and a friend on Dec. 5, 2006, inside Lawton’s Florida Street, Boston, apartment, where Collins was expected to sell the surviving victim cocaine for about $38,000. Collins and the surviving victim were patrons of the Glass Slipper strip club, and both dated dancers at the club.

During a struggle over the bag of cash, Collins struck Lawton in the head and shot him to death. He then shot the second man three times before fleeing. He was later arrested in Washington, D.C., and the weapon used in the murder was recovered near an exit ramp on Route 93.

Collins was convicted in 2009, with Conley saying at the time:

We recommended consecutive prison terms not just because of the nature of the crimes but also because of the man who committed them. This defendant is 29 years old. You can’t find a year since his childhood in which he wasn’t arrested, convicted or serving time for a criminal offense. We believe that society would best be protected by lengthy, consecutive prison terms.

Lawton had retired from the Cambridge Police Department more than a decade earlier and was working in construction. He and his girlfriend had three children, and Lawton had two from a previous relationship. One became a police officer.

“He was a good man. It’s the good people who go so soon,” a friend of Lawton’s told the Dorchester Reporter in 2006.

Among other claims justifying a new trial, Collins argued that prosecutors hid an agreement with the surviving shooting victim on a drug case in return for testifying against him. Justices found no such deal – affirming the decision of a Superior Court judge that had already denied a motion for a new trial after hearing testimony from the homicide prosecutor, Boston Municipal Court prosecutor assigned to the shooting victim’s drug case and the victim’s defense attorney. They all said there was no such agreement.

The court also found no error in the judge’s admission of phone records indicating Collins’ cellphone was used around Washington, D.C., in the days after the murder, suggesting he fled there. Justices have ruled that cell records showing specific location information must be obtained through a search warrant, but these records – showing an area of up to 100 miles from the location of a switching center a call is routed through – were considered properly admitted  without one.

Collins’ also argued that his right to a public trial was violated because the trial judge sequestered certain witnesses during jury selection, but justices said the move was necessary because witnesses were speaking with each other in front of potential jurors, and one potential witness spoke to a prospective juror.