It took only two weeks for a Suffolk Superior Court jury to convict the East Boston man accused of killing a Chelsea man in the summer of 2010.
Last Wednesday, the jury convicted Jonathan Carvalho, 22, of East Boston of second-degree murder for gunning down 29-year-old Luis Raul Rodriguez on Central Avenue in Chelsea on August 10, 2010. He was indicted for first-degree murder.
Yesterday, Judge Regina Quinlin sentenced Carvalho and imposed the mandatory sentence of life in prison. Under that sentencing, he will be eligible for parole after 15 years served.
Carvalho, who grew-up in Chelsea and is well known in the city, shot Rodriguez five times–including a shot in the victim’s back and to his face.
Rodriguez, who had found out he was going to be a father that day, was summoned by Carvalho for a fistfight to resolve an earlier dispute.
“He came to that fight thinking it was a fistfight, but he walked into an ambush,” Assistant District Attorney Amy Galatis. “Mr. Rodriguez never touched Mr. Carvalho. Mr. Rodriguez never threw a punch.”
The killing shocked the community of neighboring Chelsea –especially those who knew both Carvalho and Rodriguez.
Carvalho’s family is especially well known in Chelsea and respected.
Rodriguez had been described by friend and family members as a good man that doted on his children, went to church and worked hard.
Prior to sentencing yesterday, Rodriguez’ brother – also named Luis – addressed the court and the defendant, whom he knew growing up.
“I had love for you, man,” the surviving brother said to Carvalho, recalling their basketball games when they were young. “My brother was there to teach me,” he said, saying that the slain man became “brother, mother and father” after their mother died.
“I hope that you realize that you took a good man off this planet,” he said.
The victim’s aunt, an anti-violence advocate with the Chelsea Collaborative, also addressed the court.
“I’m sorry for this situation,” she said. “It is very sad, not just for me and my family, but for the whole community…I believe in the justice of God and I believe in the justice of the United States.”
Before leaving the witness stand, she had one last thought for the defendant.
“This door may be closed,” she said, “but the door in heaven may still open for you.”
On the afternoon of August 10, 2010 at 12:30 p.m., Carvalho went to Rodriguez’s Chelsea home with another individual. That individual knocked on Rodriguez’s apartment door. When Rodriguez answered, the individual told him that Carvalho was waiting for him outside.
The two had a prior dispute in the weeks before the shooting.
That dispute apparently centered around a woman and the homicide itself was preceded by an alleged altercation between the Rodriguez and Carvalho.
Carvalho was observed by witnesses “pacing and agitated” in the apartment building parking lot.
When Rodriguez went outside he and Carvalho circled each other briefly before Carvalho removed a 9mm handgun from his waist area and fired on Rodriguez.
As Rodriguez turned and ran back into the building, the Carvalho allegedly followed him, arm outstretched, before firing two more shots.
One of those shots hit Rodriguez in the back, piercing his lung.
The victim stumbled into the building and was able to make it upstairs before collapsing inside of his girlfriend’s apartment.
Rodriguez was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Carvalho fled the scene and, later, the state.
Investigators received several tips from the community here in Eastie and neighboring Chelsea where the murder took place that Carvalho might be fleeing south to relatives in Florida.
Police obtained a warrant for his arrest on the night of August 10 and were able to track him to a bus headed to Florida.
They missed him in Washington D.C. but with the assistance of U.S. Marshals, Chelsea Police and State Police assigned to Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley’s office arrested Carvalho in Savannah, Georgia, on August 12—just 36 hours after the murder.
Investigators credited the community for their key role in the capture of Carvalho.