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Man who fired shot that triggered asthma attack charged with murder

Kelvin Rowell lay in a coma for more than a month before he died, the victim of a violent asthma attack. But the cause of his death was anything but natural, according to prosecutors.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said the 40-year-old man was killed by a gunman who fired into a crowd of Rowell and his friends as they stood on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury.

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Prosecutors have charged Michael Stallings, 23, with first-degree murder, alleging that when he fired the shot he set off a chain of events that led to Rowell’s death. Stallings is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Suffolk Superior Court.

“Too many young men in the city are carrying firearms,” Conley said. “They need to understand something: if you fire a gun at someone, you’re responsible for whatever happened next.”

Sometime before 8 p.m., on Jan. 23, 2012, Rowell was with his friends when Stallings drove by and made eye contact with one of the other men in the small group. They recognized one another as members of rival gangs.

Moments later, Stallings came back, this time on foot, and allegedly fired into the crowd, causing the men to run off toward Pasadena Road.

Rowell ran, too, but suddenly stopped and leaned over a fence.

“I can’t breathe,” a witness heard him say. He had his inhaler with him, but the attack was too strong. An ambulance took him to Boston Medical Center, where he lapsed into a coma.

He died March 5, and the medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide in July, Conley said.

He said Rowell had nothing to do with the gang conflict that officials say got him killed.

Boston attorney Stephen J. Weymouth was appointed to represent Stallings, who is being held at South Bay House of Correction on an unrelated gun charge.

Weymouth, who met his client for the first time Wednesday night, said he did not know enough about the case to comment on the allegations.

Stallings was indicted last month on four charges related to the 2012 shooting, including murder, unlawful firearm possession, and armed assault for shooting at two men who were with Rowell. Neither of those men were struck by bullets.

At the time of the shooting, Stallings was out on $750 cash bail and on a GPS device for an assault and battery case.

Conley said prosecutors had recommended $2,000 cash bail.

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.
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