BOSTON (AP) – The state’s highest court on Friday rejected a bid for a new trial by a father and son who shot and killed four family enemies at a crowded Charlestown restaurant.

Lawyers for Anthony and Damian Clemente had argued the jury at their trial should have been allowed to hear more evidence about violence in the victims’ past that could have supported their claims that the victims actually were the aggressors.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Friday rejected that and several other arguments by the Clementes.

Prosecutors said the November 1995 shootings at the 99 Restaurant in Charlestown were part of a longtime feud between the Clementes and the Luisi family. Killed were Robert Luisi Sr., 55, and his son Roman, 26; Luisi’s nephew, Anthony Sarro, 32; and a family friend, Anthony Pelosi, 53. Sarro’s brother, 28-year-old Richard Sarro, survived a gunshot to the stomach.

During the trial, the defense said the Clementes armed themselves out of fear of the Luisis. Anthony Clemente testified his son called him from the restaurant and said he was afraid because the Luisis were there. When the father arrived, the two families exchanged words before the Clementes shot the men. Anthony Clemente testified that he shot the four men because he saw Roman Luisi reach for what he thought was a weapon.

In arguments to the court in May, Anthony Clemente’s lawyer, Rosemary Scapicchio, cited a 2005 SJC ruling that prompted a judge to throw out the manslaughter conviction of former Harvard graduate student Alexander Pring-Wilson for killing a man during a fight. In that ruling, the SJC said juries may consider a victim’s violent history if it sheds light on a self-defense claim.

But the court said Friday the father and son were not eligible to be considered for less-severe manslaughter instead of murder charges because there was no reasonable provocation.

Damian Clemente’s lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, called that finding “disingenuous.”

“The guy reached for his fanny pack, two other people stood up grabbing kitchen knives and he assumed he was going for a gun. If that’s not reasonable provocation – I guess he should have waited to see the gun come out and been shot with it first.”

Scapicchio said the ruling was “tremendously disappointing.” She plans an appeal to federal courts because she said her client did not get a fair trial.

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said Friday the jury was given extensive details of the Luisis’ violent past but rejected it.

“These defendants armed themselves when the victims did not. These defendants opened fire when the victims did not,” Conley said. “The facts, the evidence, and the law warranted these convictions, and we are very pleased that they will stand.”

The Clementes are serving multiple life sentences.


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