Gerena family photo
A 20-year-old gang member pleaded guilty today in Suffolk Superior Court to manslaughter in the slaying of a 13-year-old boy in Jamaica Plain in 2007.
Darrell Rodrigues was sentenced to 14 to 15 years in prison in the slaying of 13-year-old Luis Gerena Jr. Prosecutors said Rodrigues and another man shot Gerena in the mistaken belief he was a member of a rival gang.
Rodrigues's plea came as his trial was getting under way. The first witness had already testified.
"It's incomprehensible to me how and why you have done this. It's really incomprehensible that you would have so randomly killed a 13-year-old," Judge Judith Fabricant said during the sentencing.
Fabricant also sentenced Rodrigues on convictions of charges of assault and battery and unlawful possession of a firearm. Those sentences will run concurrently with his manslaughter sentence. She also ordered Rodrigues to serve five years of probation for another conviction on a charge of witness intimidation.
Gerena was killed Jan. 12, 2007 as he walked towards his grandmother’s house near the Jackson Square Orange Line station. The subway stop is near the Academy Homes and Bromley-Heath housing developments, where some youths have engaged in a murderous feud for decades.
In opening statements in the trial today, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Mark Hallal, said Gerena was an innocent who had no part in that feud, but did live near Heath Street with his grandmother.
Hallal said that as Gerena walked onto the basketball courts near the subway station, he was confronted by Rodrigues and Nurubeen Alabi, Academy Homes gang members. Rodrigues and Alabi were best friends, the prosecutor said, and decided to head to the Heath Street neighborhood to send "a message" to Bromley-Heath gang members.
"They made decisions, conscious and deliberate, to head up to the Heath Street area to rob and shoot the first kid they saw that resembled, in any way, a Heath Street kid," Hallal said.
Hallal said the two Academy Homes residents surrounded Gerena, and after a brief conversation opened fire. Hallal said Alabi fired five times with a .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol, sending bullets into various parts of Gerena’s body.
Hallal also said that the night Gerena was murdered, the two alleged gang members were driven to Jackson Square by two women with whom they were friendly.
Five days after the killing, Rodrigues and Alabi suspected that one of the women had provided information to police. The two gang members picked up the woman and, while riding in the same car, Alabi allegedly pointed the same pistol at the woman and threatened to shoot her. Rodrigues, at the same time, held the woman in a headlock, Hallal said.
“Just do it,” Rodrigues allegedly shouted. “Just do it.”
The woman managed to escape, and, according to Hallal, the investigation went nowhere for a year. At that time, an Academy Homes resident was arrested on an unrelated case and began providing information to police.
Rodrigues’s defense attorney, Jack Courtney, chose not to make an opening statement today. Alabi is being tried separately.
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