An alleged Boston gang member was acquitted of first-degree murder charges yesterday by a Suffolk Superior Court jury.
Manuel DaSilva, 24, was accused of being one of two shooters who opened fire on Draper Street in Dorchester on April 1, 2006, fatally wounding 18-year-old Guiliardo Rodrigues.
Rodrigues was not the intended target, but was standing next to two men when the two shooters opened fire, authorities have said. Rodrigues was shot as he ran from the gunfire and then stumbled into a yard on Mount Ida Road, where his body went undiscovered for six days.
DaSilva was also acquitted of illegal possession of a firearm. However, the jury did convict him on two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, charges that were based on the fact that bullets were fired in the direction of the two men who escaped the gunfire unharmed.
DaSilva was sentenced to two 4-to-5-year prison terms to be served consecutively. He has been jailed since April 2009 while awaiting trial and will get credit for the time already spent behind bars.
DaSilva’s lawyer, Michael Doolin, said he believed jurors voted to acquit his client because prosecutors never directly linked him to the gunfire.
“We’re tremendously grateful for the not-guilty [verdict] on murder, obviously. The jury worked hard for six days,’’ Doolin said. “The main factor, in my opinion, was that my client was not identified by any of the witnesses as being present when it happened.’’
Because his client was acquitted of murder and the firearm charge, Doolin asked Superior Court Judge Regina Quinlan to overturn the guilty verdicts on the assault charges, arguing they were logically inconsistent.
Prosecutor Mark Hallal, in his opening statement to jurors, said DaSilva was a street gang member who was feuding with a gang based on Draper Street.
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, applauded Quinlan for imposing the maximum sentence for the assault convictions.
“The jury’s verdict clearly placed the defendant at the scene of the shooting and the homicide,’’ Wark said, referring to the assault convictions. “We are gratified that Judge Quinlan imposed the maximum sentence on the crimes for which he was convicted.’’John Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.