The three teenagers charged in the beating and near-fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old in the heart of downtown Boston Friday afternoon were identified in part by photos a witness took at the scene, authorities said today.
Police were able to use the photos to confirm the clothing the teenagers were wearing, to track their movements through the MBTA subway system, and ultimately confirm their identities, Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Gregory Henning said today.
“They were able to identify without any hesitation, without any doubt, that these three defendants were the people in the photographs,” Henning said during the arraignments of two of the teens in Boston Municipal Court.
State social workers who had worked with the teenagers were able to identify them from the photographs, which police had distributed to law enforcement agencies, Henning said.
While the three defendants fled from the scene, they were arrested Tuesday after police obtained warrants and tracked them to a house in Dorchester, Henning said. The 18-year-old, who was stabbed five times in the stomach and chest, close to his heart, remains hospitalized with critical injuries but is expected to survive, Henning said.
Johnnie Bonnie, 18, and Jermaine Gillespie, 17, were arraigned today on charges of assault with intent to murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a shot foot and a knife), and carrying a dangerous weapon. A 15-year-old, who was not identified because of his age, appeared in Boston Juvenile Court on the same charges.
Lawyers for the three teenagers contested their alleged role in the stabbing. All three defendants were ordered held on $200,000 cash bail while the case is pending. They are slated to return to court on June 16.
The stabbing occurred at about 5:20 p.m. Friday, the onset of rush hour, at the intersection of Tremont and Park streets, a corner of the historic Boston Common.
Henning said the three defendants noticed the alleged victim in the area of the 7-Eleven on Tremont Street, and attacked him.
Henning said the defendants knew the victim and that the attack was not random, but that their encounter was by chance.
Two witnesses told police they saw the three men punching and kicking the victim. It wasn’t until after the culprits fled that witnesses noticed the victim had been stabbed. The victim walked into one train stop alcove, and crossed Tremont Street before collapsing.
One witness used his girlfriend’s camera to take pictures of the teenagers fleeing. MBTA Transit Police officers also arrived and started to chase the defendants, but instead tended to the victim.
Using the witness’s photographs, police were able to determine that the defendants arrived at the nearby Downtown Crossing T stop about 18 minutes before the stabbing, and they left using that stop only minutes after the incident.
Authorities determined the men left the subway system at Ruggles Station. A knife found near the scene was later recovered by a civilian who turned it over to police.
At the time of their arrest, authorities said today, the three defendants were wearing the same clothing depicted in the photographs and T system surveillance cameras, and that the clothing had reddish-brown stains consistent with blood spatter. Those stains are being tested.
Lawyers for the teenagers contested the $200,000 bail that was set. A lawyer for Gillespie, who has a history of crime as a juvenile, including assault with a knife, argued that prosecutors had no evidence specifying who was involved in the stabbing, and whether his client was involved.
And a lawyer for Bonnie, who was serving a suspended sentence for gun possession, said the teenager has been improving his lifestyle. He is working as a weightlifting coach, and finishing his college degree, said attorney Neil Madden.
He also said the teenager has been through several tragedies: His father, Carl Bonnie, was shot and killed in Boston in 2009.
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