Alleged MS-13 gang member convicted of murdering innocent man in Chelsea

A Suffolk Superior Court jury today found alleged MS-13 gang member Santos Portillo guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of Braulio Gomez, who was slain on a Chelsea street because Portillo wrongly believed Gomez was in a rival gang, prosecutors said.

The verdict came after two weeks of testimony and two days of deliberation. Portillo was also found guilty of a charge of illegal possession of a firearm.

Santos Portillo (Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe)

“This result would not have been possible without the witnesses who spoke to investigators, testified in the grand jury, and took the stand at trial,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement.

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In court, Portillo, 22, of Chelsea wore a set of earphones, listening to a Spanish translator providing him with an account of the proceedings.

Prosecutors said witnesses testified that around 2:20 a.m. on July 16, 2011, Portillo approached Gomez, 38, and a group of men on the porch of a Central Avenue house.

Portillo asked Gomez what “set” — or gang — he belonged to. Gomez responded that he did not belong to a gang. Portillo identified himself as a member of the MS-13 gang, placed a gun to Gomez’s head, and fatally shot him, the statement said.

Portillo fled the state after the shooting. He was apprehended several months later in Ohio, prosecutors said. He will be sentenced Wednesday. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years, the mandatory term for second-degree murder.

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