Jury Selection continues for Brian MacDonald and Bianca Hollenbeck trial

Despite delays from the snow storm, jury selection for the 2013 murder of Anthony Spaulding continued on Jan. 29 at Suffolk Superior Court.

Brian MacDonald, a 26-year-old from Brighton, is charged with second-degree murder of 21-year-old Spaulding at an Allston party on Jan. 1, 2013. It was the first homicide of that year.

Bianca Hollenbeck, MacDonald’s girlfriend at the time, is charged with assaulting Spaulding before he was allegedly stabbed to death by MacDonald. Authorities told WBUR that the physical altercation between the men started when Spaulding asked the two to quiet down. Both have pleaded innocent.

In the next two weeks, 16 of these 35 potential jurors will decide MacDonald and Hollenbeck’s trial outcome. As the potential jurors silently filled out their juror cards in Courtroom 817, MacDonald, dressed in a dark suit, and Hollenbeck, who wore black-rimmed glasses, fidgeted in their seats and exchanged glances with their defense attorneys.

Following Judge Janet Sanders’ questions about any hardships potential jurors may have in committing to this trial, defense attorneys Tom Hoopes and David Grimaldi questioned them one by one. Hoopes asked whether it is permissible for a person to kill another person, gauging how the potential jurors view self-defense. Grimaldi, who defends Hollenbeck, asked each potential juror if he or she can evaluate the presented evidence separately for each defendant. By the second day of jury selection, seven were empaneled.

Some potential jurors who knew the witnesses in the upcoming trial, claimed to have ADHD or did not speak English fluently, were dismissed. Others were excused because they could not commit to the entire two weeks expected for this trial.

Opening statements are expected on Feb. 2 at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 817.

More information on the murder is available from Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s press release:

BOSTON, Jan. 2, 2013—A Brighton man is charged with murder for allegedly stabbing 21-year-old Anthony Spaulding to death during a New Year’s Eve party at the victim’s Allston home, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

BRIAN MacDONALD (D.O.B. 4/7/88) was arraigned on that charge today in Brighton District Court, where Assistant District Attorney Holly Broadbent recommended that he be held without bail. Judge David T. Donnelly set bail at $500,000 cash.

Broadbent told the court that Boston Police responded to Spaulding’s Pratt Street residence just before 2:45 yesterday morning for a call reporting a person stabbed. On arrival, they found Spaulding unconscious and suffering from apparent stab wounds. Spaulding was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he died a short time later.

Officers and detectives began interviewing witnesses, who told them that the victim resided at the Pratt Street scene and that the assailant and his girlfriend were guests at a party there.

Witnesses said that Spaulding exited his bedroom and told MacDonald to quiet down a short time after they arrived. This led to an almost immediate physical altercation between the two men, Broadbent said. In the course of that altercation, Spaulding and MacDonald tumbled down the stairs from the building’s second floor to the first floor.

The two men went outside, the evidence suggests, where they were the only two men at the scene. A bystander separated the two and observed blood on both of them, Broadbent told the court.

While it was not immediately clear who threw the first punch in the underlying fisticuffs, there was no evidence that Spaulding armed himself before or during the incident, prosecutors say. Witnesses did tell investigators that they had seen MacDonald with a knife at the party before the fight.

While some responding officers spoke to witnesses, others began following a blood trail that led away from the scene. Investigators soon learned MacDonald’s identity by name and appearance and found that he lived at a Washington Street address where the blood trail ended. When taken into custody by Boston Police, he had injuries to his face and hand. Surveillance imagery from a nearby camera shows him fleeing the scene on foot, Broadbent said.

Katherine Moran is the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. MacDonald is represented by attorney Thomas Hoopes. He will return to court on Feb. 7.

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