Plymouth: Dorchester Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Marshfield Murder

James Ferguson at Plymouth Superior Court. Pool photo: Joe Difazio, The Patriot Ledger.

James Ferguson at Plymouth Superior Court. Pool photo: Joe Difazio, The Patriot Ledger.


A Dorchester man was sentenced to prison after a jury found him guilty for his role in the death of a Marshfield man.

After three hours of deliberation today, a jury at Plymouth Superior Court found 44-year-old James Ferguson guilty on a first-degree murder charge.

Ferguson is one of three men charged with the murder of Robert McKenna in 2015. After a failed robbery, McKenna was found dead in his Marshfield home on Damon’s Point Road. Five of his rifles were taken in the robbery.

Co-defendant Mark O’Brien was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life without parole. A mistrial was declared on the murder charge against Michael Moscaritolo, but he was found guilty on charges of burglary, unarmed robbery, and five counts of larceny of a firearm. Guilty verdicts were reached on all 13 charges against Ferguson.

Ferguson was sentenced today by Judge C.J. Moriarty to the mandatory sentence of life without parole on the murder charge. Concurrent prison sentences of 15 to 30 years were imposed on charges of burglary and unarmed robbery.

McKenna’s sister, Elizabeth Ainslie, says that his absence is a painful reminder during the holidays.

“Words cannot describe what a huge presence Rob was in our families. His absence is profound, and our lives have been changed forever. This murder took a lifetime away from all of us who loved him,” said Ainslie. “They didn’t just take away Rob. They took a piece of all our hearts.”

A juror in the case told WATD News that they followed the judge’s instructions on joint venture in the case, where all three suspects acted as one. They did not feel the murder was premeditated. A shirt found on Route 3A in Marshfield with Ferguson’s DNA and McKenna’s blood was a key piece of evidence.  

Defense attorney Joseph Krowski, Jr. said first degree murder convictions are automatically appealed. While he appreciated the trial process, he was discouraged that a manslaughter instruction was not given as an alternative to the first degree murder charge.

“By not giving that, you don’t really give the jury a choice. You create this impression in the jury’s mind where a death resulted, that the person is either going to guilty of first-degree murder or go completely free,” said Krowski. “Manslaughter I think was appropriate under the circumstances and given recent case law, including Commonwealth vs. Brown, I think it’s a very, very strong argument for the defendant.”

About Lenny Rowe

Lenny Rowe is one of the newest additions to the WATD News team. Lenny has won two Edward R. Murrow awards for breaking news coverage, and a Mass. Broadcasters Award in the sports feature category. He grew up in Pembroke and was an intern at WATD in 2012. A 2016 graduate from Suffolk University, Lenny now lives in Rockland. Outside of WATD, Lenny covers high school sports for The Boston Globe. Lenny can be reached at