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Commonwealth v. Shea, 644 N.E. 2d 244 (Mass. App. Ct.

1995)
Nature of case: Shea is appealing the trial courts decision of guilty of assault and battery with a
deadly weapon, which in this case is the ocean. Also for being denied his request for a
continuance for a medical evaluation and also appealing based on the Commonwealths use of
videotapes portraying a reenactment of the scene.
Facts: 1. June 15, 1991, Shea met 2 women and invited them on to his boat.
2. Shea headed out to open sea and once he was about 5 miles off shore turned off boat.
3. Shea de-robed and make sexual remarks towards the women, which they did not
return.
4. The women demanded he redress and return them to shore.
5. Shea threw 1 women into the water, who could not swim. He then jumped in himself
and held her head under water.
6. Shea then returned to the boat and threw the second women into the water, she also
told Shea she could not swim.
7. Shea then drove off in the boat leaving the women.
8. The two women were later rescued by another sail boat.
Procedural History: The trial court found the defendant guilty of kidnapping, attempted murder
and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
Issue: Whether the judgement of an guilty verdict of assault and battery with a dangerous
weapon be valid when the weapon in question is the ocean.
Holding: The appeals court affirmed the trails court decision on the indictments charging
kidnapping and attempted murder. The indictments charging assault and battery by means of a
dangerous weapon are reversed.
Analysis: 1. The appellant court used the General Law c. 265, 15A, Commonwealth v. Tarrant,
and Commonwealth v. Appleby, to determine that by the definition in the General Law, the ocean
can not be regarded in its natural state to be a dangerous weapon.
2. The Proposed Criminal Code of Massachusetts c. 263 3(i) states: any firearm or
other weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which in
the mater [in] which it is used or is intended to be used is capable of producing death or serious
bodily harm. They concluded that the requirement of assault and battery with a dangerous
weapon is that there must be a touching of some object.
3. From the other cases discussed in Commonwealth v. Appleby, a common fact is that a
dangerous weapon is an object or instrument.
4. According to 15A, the ocean, not being subject to human control, was not in the
instant case, an object or instrumentality which could be found by the jury as a dangerous
weapon. Therefore, Shea is not guilty of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon by the fact
that he left the women in the ocean.
Lisa Winnett S00167151