Tortured for years by memories of the sexual abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of a close family friend, 17-year-old Marco Tulio Flores finally snapped after finding a photograph of his young nephew in the man’s apartment.
In what prosecutors said was a case of vigilante justice, Flores went to Jaime Galdamez’s East Boston apartment on May 22, 2011, armed with a knife and a dog chain, interrogated Galdamez, and got him to admit on camera what he had done. Then he killed him and burned down his home.
Galdamez did not fight. He wound duct tape around his own face, and asked to be strangled instead of slashed to death, prosecutors said.
Flores, now 19, pleaded guilty today in Suffolk Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter, arson, and attempting to escape, avoiding a first-degree murder trial. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by 15 years of probation.
“The flood broke. The dam broke. He couldn’t stop himself,” said Flores’s attorney James Budreau. “He did what he did not out of vigilantism, but a perceived threat to these children.”
Flores was just 9 years old when the abuse started, Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said. When Flores reached puberty, it stopped, but Galdamez stayed close with his family. Flores never told anyone about the abuse, but when he found the picture of his nephew, he became terrified that Galdamez was planning to abuse the boy, Polumbaum said.
In a video he made showing himself before and after the killing, Flores said he was going to “kill a pervert,” Polumbaum said. When Flores interrogated Galdamez on tape about the abuse, Galdamez first denied and then admitted it, Polumbaum said.
Before burning down the home, Flores removed computers and a television. On the computers, said Polumbaum, investigators found child pornography and chatroom conversations in which Galdamez described his attraction to young boys and talked specifically about Flores.
“We hope that a 15-year sentence is enough to say we’re not going to give vigilante justice a pass,” said Polumbaum. “I know there are people out there saying, ‘Let him go, don’t prosecute him at all.’ ... You can’t go out and kill somebody, no matter what he did to you.’”
Flores, dressed in a dark blue dress shirt and black pants, was composed and polite throughout the hearing, pleading “guilty” in a clear voice. As Polumbaum recited the facts of the case, however, Flores appeared at times to fight back tears, blinking rapidly and raising his eyes to the ceiling.
Family members and supporters filled the benches, some crying quietly as the sexual abuse was detailed. Nobody from Galdamez’s family was present.
The attempt to escape charge that Flores pleaded guilty to stemmed from an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the Nashua Street Jail in 2011, after he was arrested for the slaying.
“This was a just resolution to an utterly tragic case,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. “It provides accountability for a life that was taken cruelly, but it also recognizes the strong mitigating factors and the potential outcomes at trial.”van Allen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.