By Owen Pence
Raymond Concepcion, the teen accused of killing Nicholas Martinez in 2012, was coerced into the shooting by fellow gang members, Concepcion’s defense attorney argued during opening statements at Concepcion’s trial Wednesday morning in Suffolk County Superior Court.
Concepcion is accused of fatally shooting Martinez, 22-year-old Boston resident on Southampton Street in the South End one October evening while he was stopped in his car at a red light. Concepcion allegedly fired multiple shots into the vehicle, fatally wounding Martinez, who reportedly accelerated onto the gas pedal before crashing the car and falling unconscious.
Defense attorney John Cunha Jr. argued that Concepcion, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, had been coerced into executing Martinez. Concepcion, Cunha Jr. argued, lacked the cognitive skills and size to stand up for himself against an alleged Mission Hill gang member and his brother. Shakeem Johnson, 21, and Jaquan Hill, 19, who drove Concepcion’s getaway vehicle on the night of the murder, both had greater physical builds than Concepcion, Cunha Jr. argued.
In February, Hill and Johnson pleaded guilty to their roles in Martinez’s murder and were sentenced to 12 to 14 years for manslaughter and five years for possession of a firearm without a license.
Cunha Jr. also alluded to an ultimatum Concepcion faced regarding Mission Hill gang members, in which his only way out of the gang was to acquire a gun and shoot someone. The defense argued that Concepcion possessed the brain function of a nine or 10-year-old. He had only lived in the United States for 2 1/2 years at the time of the murder and was in a depressive state, Cunha Jr. said, claiming Concepcion could not fend for himself against Johnson and Hill.
During the state’s opening arguments, the assistant district attorney outlined the prosecution’s plan to cite GPS records that they say prove Concepcion, in the car with Johnson and Hill, deliberately tracked Martinez on the night of Oct. 17, 2012, before killing him and fleeing the scene. The three men were arrested on a nearby highway and taken into custody approximately six minutes after the shots were fired, concluding a brief car chase amidst heavy rush hour traffic.
Two of the officers first on the scene, Christopher Bowers and Timothy Burns, testified Wednesday and described the night’s proceedings.
Hill and Johnson disrupted the opening statements of their joint trial to plead guilty. Judge Jeffrey Locke estimated testimony in Concepcion’s trial may last up to two weeks.