Two Chelsea teenagers plead not guilty in fatal shooting in March

Two Chelsea teenagers have pleaded not guilty in a March shooting in which one man has already been charged, authorities said.

Erick Romero, 15, of Chelsea was arraigned Monday in Chelsea Juvenile Court, charged with manslaughter and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in the slaying of Elder Morales, Suffolk district attorney’s spokesman Jake Wark said in a statement.

Romero was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail. He was indicted as a youthful offender, which means he could face adult penalties, if convicted, Wark said.

Elder Portillo, 18, of Chelsea was arraigned July 16 in Suffolk Superior Court on a charge of second-degree murder and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. He is being held without bail, Wark said.


Jonathan Castro, 22, of Chelsea was already being held without bail after his March 6 arraignment on charges including first-degree murder, armed assault with a dangerous weapon, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Castro and Portillo are slated to return to court on July 30; Romero will return Aug. 12, Wark said.

On March 5, Romero and Portillo allegedly ran up the front porch stairs of a home on Blossom Street in Chelsea. The two allegedly had knives on them and were attempting to attack Morales and another man. Morales swung a chain at the two suspects in an effort to protect himself, Wark said.

Castro allegedly joined Romero and Portillo on the porch and fired a handgun multiple times at Morales and the other man, who ran from the scene, Wark said.

Morales was struck by two of the shots. He was transported to Whidden Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Wark said.

A prosecutor at Castro’s arraignment said Castro and Morales were from rival gangs. Prosecutors said today that Romero and Portillo instigated the attack because Portillo believed that one of the victims had stabbed him some months before.

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