|William and Grazia Levin, parents of the slain woman, embraced after Grazia's impact statement in court yesterday that said in part: ''I am walking this world as a ghost.'' (photos by george rizer/globe staff)|
Emotions raw as murder trial ends
Defendant silent as bereaved vent
The rules stipulate that grieving family members are not to address the defendant directly in their impact statements, but Chiara Levin's aunt did just that yesterday morning.
"No doubt, Mr. Andrade, you, too, were charmed by my niece and I say to you today, that on March 24 , when you chose to escort her to a party, you assumed an obligation - to keep her in good company and out of harm's way," said Mary Levin Koch. "I want you to know that you failed miserably. You violated my niece's trust."
As she spoke from the witness stand, Koch briefly glanced at Manuel "Spank" Andrade, sitting about 20 feet in front of her. Andrade sat motionless, but his lawyer, Rosemary Scapicchio, stood up and said, "I would ask that the statement be directed to the court, not to my client, please."
It has been two years since Chiara Levin, visiting Boston from New York to attend her great-aunt's 90th birthday, was caught in a crossfire between Casimiro Barros and Andrade. Barros was sentenced in February to 30 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and other charges, and Andrade was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
More impact statements came following Koch's remarks, including those from the victim's mother and father, who traveled from Kentucky to attend both trials. Grazia Levin said, "I am lost in the present. I am walking this world as a ghost. I owe this grieving present to the person who took my daughter Chiara's life in his hands and never for a moment thought that her life was more important than showing off his killing power."
On the night of the shooting, Levin had gone to a nightclub with two college friends. There, they met Andrade, 35, and two of his friends, who drove the group to a party at 415 Geneva Ave. in Dorchester. Sometime later at the party, Andrade and his friends allegedly got into a dispute with a group of men that included Barros. An argument ensued and then gunfire.
When the fight spilled outside, Levin, 22, was sitting in the Cadillac Escalade she and her friends had arrived in. Andrade, standing near the SUV, and Barros continued to shoot at one another. Levin was struck in the head by a bullet fired from Barros's 9mm pistol, according to investigators.
Barros had also been charged with first-degree murder, but a jury returned the lesser charge. Prosecutors said Andrade was more culpable for Levin's death, even though the fatal bullet came from Barros, because Andrade started the fight that resulted in her death. Scapicchio said her client was offered a plea deal by prosecutors, but "he rejected it, because my client maintains his innocence." Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office, said it was Andrade who first sought a plea deal.
Scapicchio vowed to appeal Andrade's conviction on grounds that the jury received improper instructions and that they did not hear testimony that would have implicated someone else in the slaying.
The latest trial lasted about two weeks, and the jury deliberated for almost three days before finding Andrade guilty. Judge Frank Gaziano, before issuing his sentence yesterday, went over Andrade's lengthy criminal history, which includes convictions in 1991 for armed assault and firearms possession. The sentence drew tears among the defendant's supporters.
Andrade's parents left the ninth-floor courtroom in tears and huddled briefly with Scapicchio. Meanwhile, Levin's relatives and prosecutors gathered in an office room. Daffodils were handed out by the Levin family.
"Yellow was the color Chiara loved," Grazia Levin said. "My daughter, she was like sunshine."