Murder Case Collapses After Key Witness Dies in Jail

Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree murder charge against Eric Barnes, 29, of Dorchester after a young woman named Brianna L. Erickson, a central witness in the case, died in jail. Authorities say the death was a suicide, but a close family friend says Erickson was distressed and feared for her safety.

The evidence developed thus far by Boston Police homicide detectives and the district attorney’s office is that [Erickson’s death] was a non-homicide,” said Jake M. Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, adding that his department pays special attention to deaths in custody.

Wark also said he has not obtained any information that Erickson was intimidated in jail.

Obviously, if there was an allegation for that, we would look into it,” he said.

The testimony of Erickson, 22, who died while in South Bay House of Correction on May 8, 2014, was considered critical for Barnes’ trial to proceed. While the official investigation into her death is ongoing, the district attorney’s office said all evidence points to her taking her own life.
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2 Plead Guilty in Gang-Related Murder

Two Boston men charged with first-degree murder are facing prison terms in connection with a 2010 gang feud that left a middle school athlete dead.

Timothy Hearns, 24, and Ramano Silvelo-Miles, 24, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter in a Suffolk Superior Courtroom Thursday after admitting their role in the slaying of 14-year-old Jaewon Martin on a basketball court four years earlier.
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Week Ahead

Each week, Homicide Watch brings you a list of upcoming hearings in the cases we follow. All cases are heard at Suffolk Superior Court, located at 3 Pemberton Square in Boston, Mass.

On Tuesday, Sept. 2, Martin A. Jiminez, 44, will appear before a jury in a murder trial for the death of 33-year-old Melissa A. Hardy in June 2013.

Brian MacDonald, 26, charged with the murder of 21-year-old Anthony Spaulding in January 2013, will appear for a motion to continue trial hearing.

On Thursday, Sept. 4, Elias Sanchez, 44, accused of killing 29-year-old Edwin M. Santos in November 2013, will appear for a midpoint pretrial hearing.

Elias’ 17-year-old son Angel R. Sanchez and his 33-year-old brother Gabriel Sanchez, both of whom are implicated in the murder, will appear for midpoint pretrial hearings as well.

Please remember that all hearings are subject to change, even at the last minute. To confirm the time and date of homicide trial hearings, call the criminal clerk’s office at (617) 788-8160.

Week in Review

In brief:

There were no homicides reported this week in Boston.

On Monday, Aug. 25, Keith Williams, 18, was arraigned on first-degree murder charges for the Aug. 23 shooting death of 26-year-old Dawnn Jaffier. He will return to court on Oct. 14, 2014.

Teen Arraigned in Murder of Dawnn Jaffier

A Dorchester teen is being held without bail after allegedly gunning down a woman while she was marching in a parade this past weekend.

Keith Williams, 18, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon at his arraignment in Dorchester Municipal Court Monday in connection with the Saturday morning murder of Dawn Jaffier, 26. He, along with two others, was detained shortly after the incident and initially held on gun charges.

According to prosecutors, the teen used a .357-caliber revolver to strike Jaffier and then threw it in a nearby yard. A second woman was hit with a bullet, but survived.

“Some might say she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. “But she was not – she had every right to stand on a busy street on a beautiful Saturday morning. She had every right, just as all our children have every right, to watch a parade without putting her life at risk.”

Conley went on to call her death an “outrage” and urged witnesses of her death to come forward.
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Week Ahead

Each week, Homicide Watch brings you a list of upcoming hearings in the cases we follow. All cases are heard at Suffolk Superior Court, located at 3 Pemberton Square in Boston, Mass.

On Tuesday, Aug. 26, Omar Bonner, 27, charged with the December 2013 death of 25-year-old Romeo McCubbin, will appear for a status review conference.

His alleged accomplices Omar Denton, 30, Andrew “Spoilers” Robertson, 38, and Javaine Watson, 23, will appear for status review conferences as well.

Please remember that all hearings are subject to change, even at the last minute. To confirm the time and date of homicide trial hearings, call the criminal clerk’s office at (617) 788-8160.

Week in Review

In brief:

One homicide was reported this week in Boston:

- Around 8:15 Saturday morning, Dawnn Jaffier, 26, was found with a gunshot wound to the head. She was taken to Boston Medical Center, where she died.

The Boston Police Department is actively investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Boston Police Homicide Unit at (617) 343-4470.

Double Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured in Mattapan

One woman has died and another was injured in a double shooting in Mattapan Saturday morning, authorities said.

Shortly after 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, Boston police officers responded to the sound of gunshots at the intersection of Charlotte Street and Blue Hill in Dorchester. Upon arrival, they found Dawnn Jaffier, 26, of Boston suffering a gunshot wound to the head. Jaffier was taken to Boston Medical Center, where she eventually died. A second female victim, also in her 20s, was transported to Carney Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Keith Williams, 18, of Boston was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition after cops saw him fleeing the scene. Two other individuals were also interviewed in connection with the incident, but released.

Jaffier, a UMass Amherst graduate, was characterized by police as an “innocent victim.” She was marching in the D’ouvert Parade in Dorchester when she died.

A full update from BPD is after the jump.
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David Yarde Sentenced to Life Behind Bars

David Yarde, 23, who was convicted of second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm on Aug. 6, 2014, was sentenced Friday to a mandatory term of life in prison for the death of 22-year-old DeAndre Russ in October 2012.

During his sentencing hearing, Russ’ family members took the stand to relay fond memories of Russ and express forgiveness for his killer.

His cousin, a Boston resident, lamented gun violence in the city.

“I wish you two had just fought. Now everybody runs to guns,” she said. “All these young men are dying … there’s so much violence in Boston.”

In the end, however, Russ’ memory influenced her decision to forgive.

DeAndre wouldn’t want me to be mad,” she said.

The victim’s mother, who prepared a letter, said she’s also forgiven Yarde.

He will never be forgotten,” she wrote. “I’m glad that I got justice for him … DeAndre didn’t deserve that, but David, I forgive you.”

At the time of Russ’ murder, Yarde was out on $5,000 bail for a November 2010 gun arrest. He will serve two-and-a-half years on a firearms conviction before beginning his life term.

A press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office below.
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Mattapan Teen Sentenced to State Custody in Brother’s Murder

Juanly Peña, 15, of Dorchester pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm in a Suffolk County Juvenile Courtroom Wednesday following the death of his 9-year-old brother in February 2014.

On the morning of Feb. 7, the teen shot his brother, Janmarcos, with what he thought was an unloaded handgun while Janmarcos was playing video games. The boy ran into a hallway and collapsed, unable to recover from his injuries.

Both defendant and prosecutors agree the death was an accident.

Peña, who was charged as a youthful offender, was sentenced to six years in the custody of Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. Upon his release, he faces a three-year probation period as a result of his firearms charge.

A press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office below.
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