Mass SJC upholds 1999 murder conviction of Enez Kolenovic

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled to uphold the first-degree murder conviction in 1999 of Enez Kolenovic, formerly of Ware, in the stabbing death of David Walker. The decision was unanimous.

Kolenovic was found guilty of slitting Mr. Walker’s throat and stabbing him multiple times after leaving a bar in Ware in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 1996.  The defendant was represented at trial by Attorney Vincent Bongiorni, of Springfield.  The defense focused on the defendant’s alcohol intoxication at the time of the killing.  A Hampshire County jury convicted the defendant of murder by extreme atrocity or cruelty.  Superior Court Judge Mary-Lou Rup sentenced the defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Kolenovic appealed the conviction and Judge Rup allowed a motion for a new trial based on the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial for not presenting a defense of post traumatic stress disorder. The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office successfully appealed that ruling to the SJC, which reinstated the murder conviction in 2015.

Kolenovic appealed again, citing several issues relating to the trial. On October 17, 2017 the SJC again struck down the appeal concluding that Attorney Bongiorni provided the effective assistance of counsel in presenting an alcohol-intoxication defense.  The opinion also held that Judge Rup correctly instructed the jury on murder by extreme atrocity or cruelty and properly declined the defendant’s invitation to reduce the conviction from murder in the first degree to murder in the second degree.

The Court’s decision stated that “weight of the evidence” showed that “the defendant knew what was happening around him and what he was doing that night.  As a result, the defendant has failed to show that the weight of the evidence was against a finding of extreme atrocity or cruelty such that a lesser degree of guilt or a new trial would be more consonant with justice.”

Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan praised the decision saying “We are very pleased with the decision.  The SJC’s well-reasoned opinion finally brings closure to a murder prosecution that has been active in this office for over 20 years.”

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office was represented before the high court by Thomas H. Townsend, Chief of the Appellate Division. Boston attorney Michael R. Schneider represented Mr. Kolenovic.

The Supreme Judicial Court’s published opinion can be found here.

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