A Massachusetts man who brutally murdered his wife and left her lying face down in a pool of blood, “with a garbage bag partially full of trash over her head,” will not get a new trial or any other form of relief, the state’s highest court ruled on Tuesday.
In November 2019, Andrew MacCormack, 34, was convicted of murder in the first degree, on a theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty, by a Suffolk County jury for killing Vanessa MacCormack (formerly Masucci) in their Revere, Massachusetts, home in September 2017.
He was sentenced to life without parole in December 2019 and has consistently maintained his innocence, repeatedly blamed police for considering him the lone suspect in his wife’s gruesome death, and told the judge who sealed his fate that he “did not murder her.”
“Vanessa Masucci’s future was violently ripped away from her by the person who took an oath, promising to love and care for her. I will not refer to Vanessa by her married name because the man who took her life will also not take her identity,” then-district attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement after the sentencing. “Vanessa’s loved ones—her parents, her siblings, and her daughter—have been left with a void in their hearts and questions that can never be answered.”
At trial, the defense argued that there were no wounds on MacCormack’s body consistent with the brutal way his wife died. But the state did show the defendant had a rash consistent with bleach that aligned with chemical burns also found on Masucci’s body. That rash, and those burns, the state argued, likely came from the bleach that was used to clean up large parts of the house after the slaying, Oxygen reported.
But in his petition for a new trial, MacCormack broadly complained that the state did not show jurors evidence to support how he actually committed the crime and instead went after his prior bad acts.
“The defendant argues that the [state’s] case was based on attacking his character and speculation about his behavior in the months leading up to the victim’s death, rather than on any direct evidence that he had played a role in the killing,” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court summarized.
On the day of Masucci’s murder, her husband was out working on a friend’s house, driving unusual routes he did not typically take around town, and buying cocaine with his baby in tow. All the while, MacCormack texted and called his wife – and her parents – in order to shore up his alibi, the prosecution showed, which the court noted as part of its ruling.
“The jury reasonably could have rejected the defendant’s account,” the court noted. “[H]e and the victim had been alone with their daughter in the house at the time of the victim’s death.”
Prosecutors at trial showed that the defendant repeatedly withdrew money from the couple’s shared bank account to support his growing drug habit – a combination of cocaine and steroids – and lied about it; going so far as to forge checks from his wife to himself. The state also left jurors to wonder whether it was the husband who stole and pawned his wife’s wedding ring, and a replacement ring paid for by insurance money, in the months before Masucci died.
Those financial improprieties, and more, the state showed during the trial, were enough for Masucci to heavily consider divorce. Several text messages sent by the victim to her killer were shown to jurors where Masucci expressed growing frustration with her husband, his lies, and the general state of their fast-crumbling marriage.
In the words of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Masucci’s messages showed she felt “the situation was not fair to her, she did not trust the defendant, she was ‘at the end of [her] rope in this marriage,’ and the defendant was ‘making [her] – – – – – – miserable.'”
“The victim sent a text message to the defendant saying that she was going to sell the house and find a divorce lawyer and that she could not stop thinking about the possibility of divorce,” the SJC wrote, paraphrasing one such message sent on Aug. 31, 2017. “The following day, the defendant responded that the victim was ‘crazy’ and that he would not sign anything to sell the house or to obtain a divorce.”
The next month it all came to a head.
On the evening of Sep. 22, 2017, Masucci went to her gym for the final time. Later that night or early the next morning, she was killed in her own bedroom through a combination of a severe beating, strangulation so hard the cartilage in her neck broke, and stabs to her neck.
“The defendant told police, the victim’s mother, and [a friend of his] that the victim intended to go to the gym that morning,” the court notes. “[Cellular Service Location Information] evidence, however, indicated that the victim’s telephone had been at her house all morning, as did testimony from employees of the victim’s gym asserting that her last visit to the gym had been the previous evening.”
Also on the night of the murder, the court noted, MacCormack had been awake until around 3:00 a.m. and he was visiting escort websites – even going so far as to make a date with a sex worker for 10:00 a.m. the next day – and sent an explicit picture of himself to one woman.
The defendant argued this evidence was improperly shown to jurors.
Many times along the way, in fact, the judge overseeing the case ruled in MacCormack’s favor – telling the state the evidence about the defendant seeking out sex workers was maybe too prejudicial and at first refused to let it be presented as evidence at trial.
It was later shown in a police interview, however, that MacCormack lied and said he and his wife were “very happily” married and, as the court again summarized, “did not have any problems related to infidelity, drugs, or finances.” That, in the trial judge’s opinion, was the “tipping point. Once that evidence made it into the trial record, the escort evidence did as well.
“Evidence that a defendant has sought out an extramarital relationship also may form the basis of a finding that the defendant entertained feelings of hostility toward his or her spouse,” the high court ruled. “Such inferences are permissible where the potential adultery is not too remote in time from the killing.”
The high court’s order found that the defendant’s lies to his wife and law enforcement, stealing, drugs, faked alibi, and efforts to purchase extramarital sex were enough to sustain the conviction.
“Having carefully reviewed the record, we discern no error that would warrant vacating the conviction, or ordering a new trial, and no reason to grant relief,” the 31-page ruling explains.
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