John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Joseph Cousin stood defiantly today at his sentencing for murder and turned to look the victim's mother in the eye, insisting in a raised voice that he did not kill 11-year-old Trina Persad with a shotgun blast in a Roxbury park in 2002.
"I can look at Trina's picture every single day," said Cousin, 25, who said he had pictures of the girl in his jail cell. "I know I'm not the person who killed that child. I have no guilt. I know I'm fine. I have no guilt. I'm fine."
Cousin had told Suffolk Superior Court moments earlier: "I'm a human being. I am a father myself and a son. As a human being, I feel sympathy for the child and her family. But it's hard for me to have guilt. Yes, I was a member of a gang. Yes, I committed crimes before, but my story has never changed for seven years."
But Cousin's plea seemed to fall on deaf ears. Judge Nancy Staffier Holtz handed him a sentence that will keep him in prison for at least 19 more years before he is eligible for parole.
Cousin's second-degree murder conviction carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Holtz added consecutive sentences of 8 to 10 years for stealing a motor vehicle and 4 1/2 to 5 years for possession of a shotgun without a license, for a total prison term of at least 26 years.
Cousin will get credit for already serving more than seven years in jail awaiting trial. He avoided a verdict in 2004 when his first trial for the girl’s murder ended in a mistrial after prosecutors discovered that several jurors had lied about their criminal records on sworn questionnaires.
A Suffolk Superior Court jury convicted Cousin on Monday of killing Trina Persad. Cousin, who was 18 on the evening of June 29, 2002, belonged to the so-called M.I.C. gang and fired a sawed-off shotgun from the back seat of gray Honda Civic, aiming at members of the rival Big Head Boyz gang, prosecutors said during the trial. He missed his target and hit Trina, whom emergency medical technicians found curled in a fetal position on a sidewalk in Jermaine Goffigan Park, named for a child who had suffered a similar fate. Trina died days later.
As part of a victim impact statement, the Trina Persad's mother, Bernadette Fernandes, played a video that showed the young girl standing over a birthday cake with a cone-shaped party hat on her head.
"Joseph Cousin, when Trina's life was taken, your life was taken at the same time. You have to make peace with your maker," said Fernandes.
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