Mass SJC upholds 1st degree murder conviction of Benjamin Sanchez in 2009 Springfield homicide

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Benjamin Sanchez, (Republican file photo)

By Patrick Johnson | pjohnson@repub.com

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Friday upheld a first-degree murder conviction of Benjamin Sanchez, who was found guilty of stabbing his wife and then setting her Springfield house on fire to cover up the crime.

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Ana Cruz seen in a family photo

Sanchez was sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole in 2012 after a Hampden Superior Court jury found him guilty of premeditated murder in the death of his estranged wife, Ana Cruz, in her home at 681 Bay St. on July 12, 2009.

Cruz’s body was found inside her burning home, and it was initially thought she had died in the fire. An autopsy later revealed she died of multiple stab wounds and from smoke inhalation.

Sanchez had appealed the verdict seeking a retrial. The decision from the court rejects that request.

Murder trial begins for Benjamin Sanchez, accused of arson and slaying in death of estranged wife Ana Cruz of Springfield

Defense lawyer Alan Black said there is no evidence that Sanchez killed Cruz and set the house on fire.

According to the decision issued by the court on Friday, “The defendant argues also that there were mitigating facts in this case that warrant exercise of our authority to reduce the degree of guilt to manslaughter or, in the alternative, murder in the second degree. We have carefully reviewed the entire record pursuant to our duty and discern no reason to order a new trial or to reduce the conviction to a lesser degree of guilt.”

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni issued a statement that read: “I am pleased to announce the affirmation of this 2012 murder conviction. The dedicated and commendable work by the office’s appeals unit, headed by Chief of Appeals Kate McMahon, is clear in this decision. Specifically, I would like to thank Assistant District Attorney Bethany Lynch for representing the commonwealth in this case.”

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