The judge’s comments were on the money and everyone should recognize it. Not knowing it could end your life one way or another.
The judge is Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mitchell H. Kaplan. He just presided over a murder trial. The case was the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Peter Castillo (hereinafter, the “Defendant”).
The Defendant is the 28-year-old man who was charged with fatally shooting Stephen Perez, Jr. in order to settle an early morning insult-fest between the two strangers as they headed to their cars at closing time.
Perez had just returned from two terms of duty in the military. He was a sniper who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was on a waiting list to enter the Revere police academy. His death came 10 days before his 23rd birthday. He lived in Revere.
The Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday by a jury that took just 90 minutes to deliberate four days’ of trial testimony and evidence.
Judge Kaplan somberly sentenced Peter Castillo to life in prison with no hope of parole.
“In another age,” Judge Kaplan said, “this incident that occurred resulted in some people going home with black eyes, split lips and hurt feelings, and they’d go on to live the rest of their lives. But this is where we are today.”
The Boston Herald reports that the words brought some solace to the family of the deceased veteran.
Perez’s mother, Kimberly McGee, turning her face to the brilliant sunshine yesterday as she left the courthouse, said of Kaplan, “I really appreciate what [Judge Kaplan] said. It’s so true…My heart goes out to his family, also. They’re suffering, too. This kind of violence ripples through all our lives. There’s no joy at the end of the tunnel for any of us.”
Ms. McGee credited her recent decision to pursue therapy at the Dorchester-based Louis D. Brown Peace Institute for families of murder victims as being key to restoring her will to overcome her grief.
“I was not doing well. I wasn’t coping. I was carrying a lot of anger and resentment and I needed to heal,” McGee said. “I’m so grateful for them.”
“Justice has 100 percent been served,” said Perez’s girlfriend, Cassandra Barrasso, now 25, who still carries her lost love’s photo in her phone case. “You don’t bring a gun to a fistfight.”
Perez’s sister, Rebecca Prouty, 35, said it was initially “horrifying” to see surveillance and cellphone video that captured her brother’s murder, and especially to see him alive — if only on images more than 4 years old. But now, to see any glimpse of him as he was seems like a gift to her.
“I’d watch it forever. I don’t even care. And I know that sounds crazy,” Prouty said.
Attorney Sam’s Take On One Very Bad Moment In Our Times
While one may seem more sympathetic than the other, at least two lives were destroyed in that shooting. The deceased, of course, lost his life. The Defendant, a young man, now looks at the rest of his life behind bars.
To say nothing of the families on both sides.
Judge Kaplan’s sad words should resonate within all of us. The times we live in are more deadly and dangerous than in days gone by.
The risk of engaging in an argument with folks carries with it the risk of death or the risk of life imprisonment.
Somehow, the killing of another human being has become as easy as the simple losing of one’s temper.
It is something to remember when you leave your home in the morning or in the night. It is especially something to keep in mind when you feel you are being provoked.
One very bad moment.