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Anthony Chambers

Other Suffolk County Cases
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On February 10, 2008, a police officer in Boston, Massachusetts, responding to a 911 call, arrested 51-year-old Anthony Chambers as he fled from an apartment where 28-year-old Edward Quiles was found stabbed to death.

A month later, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Chambers on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He went to trial a year later in Suffolk County Superior Court.

James Ceurvels testified for the prosecution that he was living in the apartment with Chambers and Quiles and that all three used drugs there. Ceurvels said he used crack cocaine, while Chambers and Quiles used heroin.

Ceurvels testified that on February 9, 2008, Quiles had a golf ball-sized bag of heroin—the largest he had ever seen—and that Quiles and Chambers spent the night and early morning hours injecting heroin. He said they all went to sleep around 4 a.m. on February 10. Ceurvels said he was awakened by Quiles shouting at Chambers because he could not find his heroin.

Quiles was “pretty agitated,” Ceurvels testified. Chambers replied in a “pretty mild” tone that he would help him find the drugs. Ceurvels said he heard “stuff moving around, doors opening and closing” and that he went outside to look for partially smoked cigarettes.

Ten minutes later, Ceurvels returned to the apartment. Before he got far enough inside to see Chambers or Quiles, he spotted a large amount of blood on the floor. He continued into the apartment and saw Quiles and Chambers “having an all-out brawl, fistfight, wrestling brawl.” He testified that he saw “arms swinging, both arms swinging. And it looked like a wrestling match after that. And then they fell…out of my view and onto my bed.” Ceurvels testified that he heard the bed and chair getting kicked “from the feet hitting the chair,” along with Quiles screaming at the top of his lungs. He saw Chambers on top of Quiles, who was face down on the bed. Ceurvels testified that he then heard Quiles say, “You stabbed me, you bastard. You stabbed me.”

Ceurvels said he immediately ran out of the apartment, and that he never saw any weapon.

Ceurvels said that when he got to the lobby, a police officer was already there and as he spoke with her, Chambers walked past them, saying, “I’m out of here, dude. I’m bouncing.”

The officer, Renisha Silva, chased Chambers and took him into custody nearby.

Meanwhile, while Ceurvels waited by the front door of the building, a man identified later as Juan Velasquez arrived, took stock of the arriving police vehicles, and ran.

When the police entered the apartment they found Quiles dead with a three-inch long laceration on his neck. The metal blade of a steak knife broken off at the handle was on the floor nearby. The handle was on an adjacent table.

Boston police Sgt. William Doogan testified that he questioned Chambers at the police station. He said Chambers told him that Quiles “was crazy on drugs” and accused Chambers of stealing his drugs before attacking him.

Chambers said that they went to bed around 6 a.m. and that a few hours later, Quiles woke him by accusing him of stealing his heroin. Chambers said he left the apartment, but not the building, for about an hour to let Quiles calm down, then returned and went to sleep. A few hours later, Chambers said he was awakened again when Quiles ripped off Chambers’ coat, which he had been using as a blanket, and shouted, “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to stab you. You took my dope. I know you did, you junkie (obscenity).”

Chambers told Doogan that Quiles got the steak knife out of the kitchen, prompting Chambers to call 911 on his cell phone. Chambers said Quiles began punching him in the head. Quiles then telephoned Velasquez, who was Quiles' source for drugs, and said, “Get over here, I want to shoot this (obscenity). I want to fill him full of holes. He took all my dope and thinks I’m stupid.”

Doogan testified that Chambers told him that he dialed 911 again while Quiles was talking to Velasquez and to report that he was being threatened and that Quiles was “flipping out.” When Quiles hung up and realized that Chambers was calling the police, he became hysterical. Chambers said Quiles punched him in the head, smacked the phone out of his hand and blocked the doorway, saying, “You’re not going anywhere.”

Doogan said Chambers made conflicting statements about how the knife came to be involved in the fight—at one point saying Quiles got it from the kitchen and at another saying Quiles had it in his back pocket. But in the end, Chambers said he was “scared to death” and “defended himself” after Quiles, who was younger and stronger, tossed Chambers onto the bed and jumped on top of him. Doogan said Chambers said he turned the knife back on Quiles.

Before trial, Judge Regina Quinlan ruled that Chambers’ defense lawyer could present evidence that 21 months before the stabbing, Quiles had violently attacked someone else to support Chambers’ defense that he was acting in self-defense and that Quiles was the aggressor.

In his opening statement, Chambers’ lawyer promised the jury he would present evidence of Quiles’ earlier violent attack. After the prosecution presented its evidence, however, Judge Quinlan—without prompting from the prosecution—reversed the ruling and said the evidence was not admissible because there was no dispute that Quiles instigated the fight. The judge also refused to instruct the jury that she had found the promised evidence of Quiles’ prior violent act inadmissible because there was no evidence that Chambers was the aggressor.

On March 31, 2009, the jury convicted Chambers of involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to five to seven years in prison.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in 2012. However, in June 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the judge mistakenly ruled that the evidence of Quiles’ prior violent act was admissible only if there was a dispute over whether Quiles or Chambers was the aggressor.

“We conclude that this mistake infected her ruling, and caused evidence to be excluded that in her discretion otherwise would have been admitted,” the court ruled. “We also conclude that this mistake, when considered with defense counsel’s unfulfilled promise…to the jury, resulted in prejudice that requires the conviction to be vacated and the case to be remanded for a new trial.”

On December 19, 2013, Chambers was released on bond. He went to trial a second time and was acquitted on May 29, 2014.

Chambers subsequently filed a civil lawsuit seeking compensation from the state of Massachusetts. The lawsuit was pending in September 2016.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/21/2016
State:Massachusetts
County:Suffolk
Most Serious Crime:Manslaughter
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2008
Convicted:2009
Exonerated:2014
Sentence:5 to 7 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:51
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No