A 20-year-old Mattapan man is facing charges that he allegedly stabbed another man to death outside a Hyde Park home around dinnertime Thursday, in Boston’s first homicide of the year.
William Earl was arraigned this morning in West Roxbury Municipal Court on a charge of murder. He remained hidden from the public behind a door as a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Family members attending the hearing said the victim was Samuel Constant, 19, of Hyde Park. They said they didn’t know until they heard a court clerk read out the murder charge against Earl that Constant was dead.
“My nephew is dead, and the guy who did it won’t even show his face,” said Constant’s uncle Abner Jerome, 41, of Roxbury. “We came here for answers and we still don’t know anything. All we know is that he’s dead.”
A prosecutor said in court that, when questioned after the slaying, Earl told police, “Is he dead? I just want to know if he’s dead.”
Earl and the victim engaged in a heated argument outside 139 Margaretta Drive around 6 p.m. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, while Earl allegedly suffered minor injuries, Boston police said.
Earl is a resident of Walk Hill Street in Mattapan, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said.
Assistant District Attorney Tara Burdman said Evans told a responding officer,“I killed someone; that’s what you’re going to find.”
Witnesses told police that Earl attacked the victim without provocation, Burdman said.
Some of Constant’s family members sobbed when they heard the murder charge; one stormed out.
After the hearing was over, Constant’s mother stood bolt upright, letting out a pained shriek. She continued to scream as more than a dozen family members excorted her to her car.
Other family members said they did not know Earl and were unsure of what the motive might be for the killing, which occurred at Constant’s girlfriend’s home.
A judge set a probable cause hearing in the case for Feb. 10.
A 21-year-old woman said last night that she had heard part of the exchange that led to the fatal stabbing.
“It sounded like people were fighting or arguing, and then I got scared and I didn’t hear anything else,” she told the Globe.
Later, she and a friend said, they saw a body covered by a sheet lying in a parking area, with two knives and a patch of blood visible on the pavement.
About five hours after the fatal stabbing, police responded to 136-138 Rowe St. in Roslindale, where a man was shot several times and pronounced dead at the scene, Boston Police Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross said Thursday night.
The first and second homicides of the year happened the same day new Mayor Martin J. Walsh formally named William Evans as the city’s new police commissioner and Evans, in turn, named Gross as his second-in-command.
Gross said police did not yet have a description of the suspect in the Roslindale case, and there was no indication that the shooting was linked to the earlier stabbing.
There were 40 homicides in Boston in 2013, with the first occurring in Allston at a New Year’s Eve party in the early hours of Jan. 1.
John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.