Mass. high court upholds Marshfield murder conviction

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Erin Tiernan
May 17, 2018

An undocumented Brazilian immigrant who was convicted in the 2011 stabbing death of his girlfriend was seeking a new trial.

BOSTON — The state’s Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a Marshfield man serving a life sentence for the 2011 stabbing death of his on-again off-again girlfriend.

Marcelo Almeida, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil, was convicted in 2015 of murdering 24-year-old Patricia Frois in her Marshfield apartment complex three years earlier. In his appeal, Almeida argued that he deserved a new trial because the judge who oversaw his first one had given the jury bad instructions and had failed to reign in prosecutors when they mischaracterized evidence in their closing statements and presented evidence about Almeida’s history of fights with Frois, which he said prejudiced the jury against him.

In a decision issued Wednesday, the state’s highest court said the judge did nothing wrong in allowing the evidence about previous fights in which Almeida had threatened to kill and stab Frois because, the justices said, it established a pattern of hostility in the couple’s relationship and hinted at intent and motive for the murder. The justices also rejected Almeida’s claim that a conversation he had with a state trooper after he was arrested was mischaracterized. In the conversation, Almeida confessed to killing Frois.

Almeida, who was 45 when he was convicted, has long admitted to repeatedly stabbing Frois, his former girlfriend, after months of what prosecutors described as desperate attempts to get her to return to him. Instead, Almeida’s attorney argued at trial that the stabbing was an act of passion — ignited when Frois told him that she had seen other men — and amounted to manslaughter, which carries a lighter sentence than murder.

At the trial, prosecutors argued that Almeida’s confession with the trooper, in which he made no mention of Frois seeing other men, was proof of premeditation and grounds for conviction on first-degree murder. Almeida argued this was a mischaracterization of his words, but state supreme court justices disagreed.

“The prosecutor’s comments would not have created a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice,” the court stated in its decision. “The commonwealth presented overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s premeditation.”

In the days and weeks leading up to the stabbing, Almeida on multiple occasions told family and friends he wanted to kill Frois after she refused to move back in with him. One witness testified that Almeida said that what he was going to do to Frois, “not even his own mother would forgive.”

On Sept. 26, 2011, Almeida stabbed Frois 11 times in her Marshfield apartment building.

During the trial, prosecutors said Almeida told multiple people he planned to kill Frois “for love,” but didn’t tell any of them that he wanted her dead because she had sex with someone else. Prosecutors said Almeida only brought up that part of his story when it came time to defend himself against murder charges.

The court also ruled the judge’s instructions to the jury were sufficient.

District Attorney Timothy Cruz, whose office prosecuted the case, said he was pleased with the supreme judicial court’s decision.

“This was a particularly gruesome and senseless crime, and a family was broken by the loss of their sister and daughter,” Cruz said in a statement. “Today’s SJC decision will hopefully reinforce the fact that justice was done for the family of Patricia Frois and that family can now find some peace.”


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