Nathaniel Davis Jr. stood in the stifling heat outside Suffolk Superior Court Friday morning and described the heartache he feels every day passing the Dorchester intersection where his young son was fatally shot two years ago.
“It’s painful, even now. A parent shouldn’t have to bury their child,” he said quietly. “Why did this have to happen? Why did these two have to shoot my son dead like he was some animal or something?”
It was Memorial Day two years ago, Davis said, and the family was planning on going to Cape Cod later.
“I was going to teach him how to drive the boat,’’ Davis said. “It was the first time that my family, during that holiday, stayed at home. I was in fear all of their life for them staying there, and the one time I stayed, I lost a son.”
An hour earlier inside the courtroom, Crisostomo Lopes, 22, and Joshua Fernandes, 18, received mandatory sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his son, 14-year-old Nicholas Fomby-Davis on May, 30, 2010.
The defendants, sitting next to their lawyers, listened to Davis, a towering man who stood because he was too large to sit in the witness stand, as, in a booming voice, he berated Lopes and Fernandes for taking his son’s life.
It was a rare courtroom moment, allowed by Judge Patrick Brady, for a relative of a victim to directly address, in comments and by name, the perpetrators.
Davis paused, closed his eyes and took several long, deep breaths before he started talking. The courtroom was hushed.
Immediately, he made eye contact with the defendants.
“And then you sit up there like you’re a baby or something, like you’re some kind of little child,’’ Davis said, looking squarely at Fernandes, who prosecutors said fired the fatal shot. “Two years older than my son, you should have been showing him how to play basketball or something, but your only intention when you pick up that gun is to kill. When are you going to cut it out? When are you all going to cut it out? ’’
Fernandes’s eyes appeared to fill with tears, and he blinked rapidly as he took several gulps from a small water bottle on the table in front of him. Lopes’s gazed shifted from Davis to the floor. He and Fernandes were wearing white long-john shirts, dramatically different attire than the dark suits, ties, and colorful shirts they wore during the two-week trial.
Davis said he watched the defendants grow up in the neighborhood, and he often passed them and their families on the streets or in stores.
According to trial testimony, Lopes is a gang member 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 older 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.
It was then when the two men attacked the teen on the scooter.
The convictions will be automatically appealed under state law. During the trial, and in her statements after the sentencing, Rosemary Scappicchio discussed “juvenile brain development,’’ in defense of her client, and said the issue will be part of an appeal.
“Juvenile brains are different than adult brains. They don’t react in the same way; they don’t have the same capacity to be able to understand.”
During the sentencing hearing, tensions nearly erupted between the families.
Davis was escorted out of the courtroom by court officers after he exchanged brusque words with members of the Fernandes family. Lopes’ family did not attend the trial; according to Lopes’ attorney, Christopher Belezos, “He didn’t want to put them through it.”
Fernandes’s father, Joaquim, attempted to keep peace, standing and telling several nephews and family friends, still seated, to “just be quiet, no need to say anything.”
About a dozen court officers stood in the courtroom and about a half-dozen Boston police officers stood in the hallway as Fomby-Davis’s family walked out, followed minutes later by Fernandes’s family.
Earlier in the hearing, Fomby-Davis’s sister and aunt remembered him in their statements to the court.
Trinecia Davis, the victim’s sister, read from an application her brother had submitted for a summer program.
“My strengths are that I am helpful, informative, intelligent, and well-mannered,” the essay read. “What I can contribute to the Summer Leader Program is that I can help everyone get along with each other, no matter where we come from, whether it’s the urban areas of Dorchester, Mattapan, or Roxbury or the suburban areas like Canton, Milton, and other towns. I will contribute a positive environment to SLP and will help people work together.”
The reading drew tears from his family.
When his aunt, Angela Fomby, went to the witness stand, she said she was glad justice had been served. “That day, all my nephew wanted was a joyride on a scooter, not for you to take his life,’’ she said.