SJC Affirms First Degree Murder Conviction of Robert Upton

Convicted in 2009 murder of 47 year old Aris Manoloules...

Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael D. O’Keefe announced today that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the first degree murder conviction of Robert Upton, (DOB 9/5/64) for the 2009 killing of 47 year old Aris Manoloules.

The jury heard that Robert Upton was having financial difficulty, and Robert Upton's sister's husband Treefon Manoloules offered him $165,000 to kill Aris Manoloules, Treefon’s brother. Robert Upton needed money to support his double life, which included both a family and a secret girlfriend, unaware of his marriage. Treefon wanted his share of a family inheritance, as the brothers’ mother had bequeathed her entire estate to Aris, her caretaker. Robert Upton sought the assistance of his nephew, Christopher Manloules, to murder Aris. On the evening of September 29, 2009, Upton and Christopher went to the Hyannis house of the victim, Aris Manoloules. On September 30, police found the victim shot four times. Christopher testified at the defendant's trial that Upton drove him to the home, and Christopher searched for jewelry. Christopher told Upton he could not find jewelry and asked to leave. The defendant pulled out a gun and walked into the family room where the victim was watching the Red Sox. Christopher heard four gunshots. The police interviewed the defendant on October 1, 2009. The Court found the defendant "told a story littered with inconsistencies and denials."

On January 17, 2013, a Barnstable Superior Court jury found Upton guilty of first degree murder on theories of deliberate premeditation and felony-murder with the predicate felony being attempted armed robbery. The jury also convicted the defendant of aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, and of armed assault in a dwelling house. The defendant was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the first degree murder conviction. On the conviction for aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, the defendant was sentenced to 14-15 years at MCI-Cedar Junction, concurrent. On the conviction for armed assault in a dwelling the defendant was sentenced to life, concurrent.

On appeal, Upton argued that newly discovered evidence comprised of subsequent testimony by Christopher Manoloules indicated that the prosecution failed to disclose an alleged plea agreement with him at the time of trial. He alleges that the trial judge erred in denying his second motion for a new trial without an evidentiary hearing on the matter.

In its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected all of Upton’s challenges. The Court found that there was no undisclosed plea agreement with Christopher. The Court held that the testimony of Christopher does not qualify as newly discovered evidence as the civil trial involved different parties and different burdens of proof. The Court discerned no error in the trial judge's denial of the motion for a new trial.

The case was investigated by the Barnstable Police and the State Police Detectives Unit assigned to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office. The case was tried by First Assistant District Attorney Brian Glenny. The appeal was briefed and argued by Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Sweeney.
 


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