A request for a new trial for a Sandwich man convicted of murder has been denied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Daniel Prunty, 61, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Jason Wells, a 23-year-old Hyannis man, in 2004. Mr. Prunty was found guilty of first degree murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and attempted extortion by a Barnstable Superior Court jury on February 15, 2006.
The request for a new trial was made on February 14 and was denied on February 26. The order states that no new evidence has come to light which would necessitate a new trial. The decision is signed by Justice Elspeth B. Cypher.
Court documents state that Mr. Prunty and Mr. Wells had an altercation in Mr. Prunty’s Palomino Way home on August 7, 2004. Mr. Prunty, 44 at the time of the incident, had accused Mr. Wells of stealing money, watches and jewelry the day after a party was held at the Sandwich home.
The following day, after Mr. Prunty, Mr. Wells and a third man, Richard Ford, used cocaine in the home, an argument began in which Mr. Prunty accused Mr. Wells of stealing the items. Mr. Wells denied the accusation.
At some point. Mr. Prunty went upstairs and returned with a Ruger .22 caliber rifle. He pointed it at Mr. Wells’ head and told him, “If you don’t get my stuff by sunrise, you’ll never see another sunrise again.”
Ultimately, Mr. Wells said that he knew something about the stolen items and had to make some phone calls to retrieve them.
When Mr. Wells was unsuccessful in reaching anyone, Mr. Prunty shot Mr. Wells in the head, killing him.
Court documents indicate that several people had been in the home at the time of the incident.
Mr. Prunty called the Sandwich police himself to report what he called an accidental shooting. Police found Mr. Wells on the kitchen floor, having suffered a gunshot wound to his forehead, though he was still alive. Officers were unable to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead by the time he arrived at a hospital in Boston.
The story given to police at the time was that Mr. Wells had shot himself, though Mr. Prunty admitted to having pointed the gun at him earlier.
Police arrested Mr. Prunty and initially charged him with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
During the trial, witnesses testified that they had seen Mr. Prunty shoot Mr. Wells, which evidence also pointed to as being what had happened. It was also determined that Mr. Wells had not stolen Mr. Prunty’s belongings. They had instead been taken by Mr. Prunty’s girlfriend at the time, Kate Finnegan.
In 2006, Mr. Prunty was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Mr. Wells.