On the first day of deliberation, jurors found Brian MacDonald guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Anthony Spaulding. Jurors will continue deliberating on Monday to reach a verdict for Bianca Hollenbeck, MacDonald’s co-defendant.
Judge Janet Sanders asked 12 jurors to review the incident during the New Year’s Eve party at a 48 Pratt Street apartment two years ago. MacDonald, according to assistant district attorney Julie Higgins, was involved in a fight with Anthony Spaulding, a resident of the apartment, that eventually led to his death.
Defense attorney Tom Hoopes argued during the two-week trial that MacDonald acted in self-defense against the “48 Pratt Street Gang.”
Higgins told jurors in her closing arguments on Feb. 19 that MacDonald, an uninvited guest, was warned by Spaulding for being loud outside his bedroom. Spaulding at the time was exhausted and only wanted the MacDonald and Hollenbeck to quiet down so he could go to bed and get ready for a morning shift at Staples the following day, Higgins said.
Higgins argued that MacDonald instigated the fight, which continued outside the apartment, with other partygoers following them out.
“The defense keeps to wanting to cast a dark, dark cloud on 48 Pratt Street, that everyone was against [MacDonald and Hollenbeck], but they just wanted to have a good time,” Higgins said. “They didn’t want to fight. They just wanted [MacDonald and Hollenbeck] to leave. But [the defendants] didn’t leave.”
During the fight, Hollenbeck allegedly had Spaulding in a headlock. She is charged with assault and battery. David Grimaldi, her defense attorney, argued on Thursday that his client had no choice but to stay in the “house of horror,” as she was only trying to protect her boyfriend, MacDonald. It only made sense, Grimaldi argued, that the 5-foot-2 defendant would be riled up in this chaos.
After the fight was broken up, witnesses found Spaulding losing consciousness and called police.
MacDonald had minor injuries to his thumb and right index finger, as well as bruises around his eye and back pain. He walked home with Hollenbeck, leaving “a trail of blood,” Hoopes said.
Spaulding had several broad abrasions on his face, hands and body; scratches on his cheek, around his eyes and right side of his neck; some knife wounds; and stab wounds on his chest area. The stab wound on his lower chest caused internal bleeding, eventually leading to his death.
It did not make sense, Higgins said, for MacDonald to use such force on Spaulding and for Hollenbeck to escalate matters, when they were given the choice to leave more than once.
“You’ll know that 2013 wasn’t a new beginning for Anthony Spaulding. It was an end because of this man,” Higgins said as she held up a letter-size mug shot of MacDonald. “One weapon. One weapon was used that night. It was no self-defense … And this is how he left him.”
From the back of the courtroom, Spaulding’s girlfriend, Ariana Taylor, broke down into sobs as Higgins showed an autopsy photo of Spaulding to the jurors.