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Massachusetts court upholds man's conviction in death of woman set on fire


BOSTON — The highest court in Massachusetts has upheld the murder conviction of a Springfield man who was found guilty of killing his former girlfriend's mother by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.

Lastarandre Bell was convicted in 2008 in the death of Julie Ann Nieves. Bell had dated Nieves' daughter. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed Bell's first-degree felony murder conviction in 2011, finding that the judge gave improper jury instructions.

Bell was convicted at a second trial in 2012.

Bell appealed, claiming statements he made to police after the fire were not voluntary. He also argued that showing graphic photos of Nieves while she was being treated in the hospital unfairly prejudiced the jury.

The SJC rejected those arguments and upheld his convictions for first-degree murder and felony murder.

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