By Matthew K. Roy
PEABODY — A district court judge ruled yesterday that a jury could hear about paroled murderer Charles "Chucky" Doucette Jr.'s criminal history when he goes on trial today for assault and battery and other charges stemming from a Valentine's Day argument with his girlfriend.
Doucette, 51, of 18 Doloff Ave., Beverly, was arrested after he allegedly dragged girlfriend Melissa Markus alongside his truck and threatened to put a bullet in her head.
Prosecutor Matthew Hemond argued that Doucette's past, which includes shooting to death a Salem man and two violent home invasions, is "extremely relevant."
"This isn't somebody that is making a threat with a clean past," he said. Markus, 47, knew about this past and had reason to be afraid, according to Hemond.
Defense attorney Etan Goldberg said the crimes had no connection to the events of Feb. 14 and that their admission would be unfair to his client.
"I don't think anything could be more prejudicial," Goldberg said.
Judge Richard Mori decided to allow the crimes to be introduced. He also ruled Markus' testimony about Doucette's alleged abuse of her, including her claim that he punched and headbutted her in July 2009, could be brought up in open court.
Doucette has been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threatening to commit a crime and intimidation of a witness. If convicted, his parole could be revoked and he could return to prison for the rest of his life.
The trial was to begin yesterday but jury selection netted only five jurors; six are needed. The pool of potential jurors was 17 people. Many raised their hands when asked whether Doucette's murder conviction would bias them.
The trial is expected to begin this morning after the final juror and at least one alternate is chosen.
Doucette's lawyers will argue that he was acting in self-defense when he drove away from his home and left Markus behind. She didn't fear him, Goldberg said, and called him and asked him to come back.
At a hearing in February, the defense called Markus' allegations a "fabrication" by a woman who was drunk and upset that she was being "dumped" by Doucette because of her drinking. Markus and Doucette met at an Alcoholics Anonymous group in Beverly and started dating while Markus was estranged from her husband.
Acting on a motion from the defense, the judge decided to allow incidents from Markus' past to be introduced as well. Goldberg highlighted an arrest in 2007 when Markus was charged with disorderly conduct and two counts of assault and battery on a police officer following a report of a breaking and entering into a home on Folly Hill Drive in Danvers.
Doucette is on parole from seven life sentences, imposed in 1991 for the killing of Raymond Bufalino, and two home invasions in Peabody and Lynnfield while he was awaiting trial in the murder. He was released in 2007.