It took only 3½ hours on Thursday for a Suffolk jury to convict the two men charged in the 2010 killing of a Dorchester eighth-grader, an unusually fast turnaround in a first-degree murder case that shocked the victim’s neighborhood with its brutality and coldness.
Joshua Fernandes, 18, and Crisostomo Lopes, 22, are expected to be sentenced Friday to life in prison, the mandatory penalty for first-degree murder.
Fernandes was 16 when prosecutors said he shot Nicholas Fomby-Davis, a 14-year-old Dearborn Middle School student, on May 30, 2010.
Lopes, a gang member, was accused of acting as the “mentor” who who grabbed Fomby-Davis off a scooter he was riding, held the boy, then encouraged Fernandes to shoot him. The motive was never explicit, but prosecutors said Fomby-Davis was an innocent target of gang feuds in the neighborhood. His brother, Nathaniel, had been harassed by gang members before the shooting, and some of the testimony suggested that Fomby-Davis was a victim of mistaken identity.
Fomby-Davis had been riding on the back of his brother’s scooter when they nearly collided with Lopes on Bowdoin and Inwood streets. Moments later, Fomby-Davis took his brother’s helmet and scooter and rode off alone for one last ride.
The convictions will be automatically appealed under state law.
Fomby-Davis’s mother, Latrina, and father, Nathaniel Davis Jr., closed their eyes and held each other as the jury foreman read the verdicts. Their two daughters sat next to them, their heads lowered.
During the reading of the verdict, Lopes showed no expression, but Fernandes swallowed hard and blinked rapidly.
Outside the courthouse, Nathaniel Davis Jr. thanked police and prosecutors as his wife made calls on her cellphone to spread word about the verdict.
“They got what they deserved,” he said, tears in his eyes. “The way they ambushed and executed my son. . . . It was the right thing to do to lock them up for the rest of their lives, the rest of their natural lives.”
Later, Davis said: “We got a guilty verdict for Nicholas. Now we must pray and mend our lives.”
He urged more love and understanding, particularly among young people.
“Whatever happened to love?” he said later Thursday. “I really don’t think these young people learn so much hatred on their own.”
Friends and family of the defendants had been in court regularly to hear testimony, including Fernandes’s father who had attended every day. But on Thursday, the verdict came quickly, and he did not make it in time.
“He’s speechless,” said Rosemary Scapicchio, Fernandes’s lawyer, who called her client’s father immediately after the verdict. “I think that he was shocked, shocked, that [his son] was found guilty.”
Lopes’s lawyer, Christopher Belezos, who had argued that his client was nowhere near Fomby-Davis during the shooting, said he was “very disappointed.”
The case featured 28 witnesses and nearly 200 pieces of evidence, including gunshot residue found on Fernandes’s hands and Lopes’s clothes. But the most crucial testimony came from Boston police Officer Anthony Williams, who was heading home on Bowdoin Street, when he saw Lopes and Fernandes acting suspiciously. He told the jury he witnessed the shooting.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he believed that the officer’s testimony helped the jury come to a quick resolution.
“The evidence was very powerful and overwhelming,” said Conley, who was present for the verdict. “We’re very, very fortunate that Anthony Williams not only was driving by as this event was unfolding, but that he didn’t just continue on. He saw something suspicious. He made a U-turn, and he acted on it.”
During her closing statement, Scapicchio told the jury that Williams lied during his testimony in an attempt to make himself look like a hero. She and Belezos pointed to inconsistencies between his testimony and video that captured some of the assault.
“The swiftness of the verdict spoke to the fact that they rejected that defense emphatically,” Conley said. He called Scapicchio’s comments “offensive and insulting.”
Scapicchio and Belezos had argued before the trial that they should be allowed to introduce evidence that Williams was once suspended by the department for lying about an unrelated investigation. Judge Patrick Brady denied their request.
“I think if the jury got the opportunity to hear that Anthony Williams had been disciplined for lying, it might have made a difference in the verdict,” Scapicchio said.
Boston police declined to comment on Williams’s previous suspension.
But in a statement Thursday, Commissioner Edward F. Davis defended the officer.
“I would like to especially recognize . . . Officer Anthony Williams for intervening in this murderous assault,” his statement read.
“I am particularly gratified that the jury rejected the outrageous claims made by defense counsel.”