| The Enterprise
BROCKTON — The state’s highest court has affirmed the first-degree murder conviction of a Brockton man in the 2009 shooting death of a Taunton teenager, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said.
In 2012, Joao Teixeira, then 22, was convicted of first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm in the shooting death of Keith Leverone, who was 19 and from Taunton.
Teixeira was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld Teixeira’s convictions, which means he will serve the rest of his life sentence.
Leverone was shot once in the head while he sat in his brother’s car in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store on Belmont Street in Brockton. The shooting happened at around 3 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009.
Teixeira was out on bail on charges of assault and battery on a police officer at the time he killed Leverone.
According to the SJC decision, “the fatal shot” took place shortly after a fight between Teixeira and the victim’s brother, Olivio Leverone.
“The evidence showed that the defendant had a long-standing dispute with Olivio, his former friend, and that the groups had been engaged in ongoing hostilities towards each other,” the decision said.
According to the SJC decision, Olivio Leverone testified that the evening before the murder he had been driving around Brockton in his black Acura with his brother and a friend when Teixeira and another man pulled up to an intersection and Teixeira fired two shots at Olivio Leverone, but neither the vehicle nor its occupants were hit – though another witness and Teixeira denied that the incident took place.
Later that night, Olivio Leverone, his brother and the friend had another confrontation with Teixeira at a gas station “that was a popular hangout spot at that hour, after the bars closed,” according to the SJC decision. There, a friend of Olivio Leverone’s pinned Teixeira to a vehicle while Olivio Leverone stabbed Teixeira in the leg with a pocket knife, the decision said.
Still later that night, the Leverone brothers and their friends “drove to a nearby convenience store that was also a popular place to gather” and had another violent encounter with Teixeira — this time ending in the killing of Keith Leverone.
According to the SJC decision, the parking lot was “packed,” with about 30 people. The victim again stayed in the Acura. Teixeira and his friend arrived “wearing gloves” and “Teixeira announced that he was ready to fight ‘whoever,’” the decision said. At which point Olivio Leverone and several other people beat Teixeira for several minutes, pounding him “to the ground.”
According to the SJC decision, Olivio Leverone then walked away and headed towards his vehicle, turned around and heard Teixeira tell his friend, “Give me the gun,” and saw the friend hand one to him. At that point, Olivio Leverone began to run towards the street, heard a single gunshot and turned around again to see Teixeira driving away in Leverone’s Acura and his brother lying on the ground, not breathing.
Teixeira’s appeal for a reduced sentence was denied by the SJC on Wednesday.
His appeal to the SJC focused on “jury instructions, introduction of prior bad acts, statements made by the prosecutor during opening statements and closing arguments, ineffective assistance from his trial counsel, and a claim of newly discovered evidence. Teixeira also asked the court to reduce the first degree murder verdict,” the DA’s office said.
But the SJC held, “We conclude there was no error, and accordingly affirm the convictions. We also discern no reason to use our extraordinary authority to reduce the murder verdict to a lesser degree of guilty or to order a new trial.”
Among other things, Teixeira had argued in his appeal that the trial judge had erred in not providing the jury instructions on self-defense.
But the SJC said that even if Teixeira had feared for his safety he had the opportunity to flee but, “rather than leave the parking lot, the defendant obtained a firearm…and turned and began pursuing Olivio and his companions, who were in the process of walking back to their vehicle.”
“Because the defendant in this case did not meet the requirement that he use all reasonable means to retreat before resorting to deadly force, the judge did not abuse his
discretion in declining to provide an instruction on the use of force or excessive force in self-defense,” the court said.
Teixeira remains incarcerated at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.
With staff reports