Furious that several women he met at a Dorchester house party in 2009 showed no romantic interest in him, Keron Pierre found them outside, pulled out a pistol, and fired repeatedly upon the vehicle they sat in, killing three occupants and narrowly missing another, authorities said.
Three days later, Pierre fled to Trinidad and Tobago, prosecutors said, setting off a lengthy extradition battle that culminated with his recent agreement to extradition and return Friday to Boston.
On Monday, Pierre, 27, formerly of Mattapan, was arraigned on three counts of murder and other charges. Authorities said it was “miraculous” that the 23-year-old female survivor was not injured by the flurry of gunfire that riddled the Nissan Sentra parked in front of 41 Mount Ida Road.
It was a close call for her. One bullet penetrated her jacket, said Jake Wark, spokesman for Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk district attorney.
“As terrible an event that was, it could have been worse,” Wark said. Pierre had only motor vehicle infractions on his record prior to the deadly shooting, Wark said.
Throughout the 15-minute arraignment, Pierre stayed out of view, but pleaded not guilty to each charge. His attorney, John G. Tardif, had asked Trial Magistrate Gary D. Wilson to allow his client to stay out of sight in the Suffolk Superior courtroom.
“Identification will be a key matter in the defense,” Tardiff said.
Prosecutors say they are certain that Pierre killed Shacora Gaines, 20, of Brockton; Chantal Palmer, 20, of Brockton; and Anthony Peoples, 19, of Boston.
Relatives of the victims gasped and sobbed as assistant prosecutor Mark Lee gave an account of the March 29, 2009, triple homicide.
“I just, I wanted to see his face, but I couldn’t really see his face,” said Palmer’s mother, Claudia Brown, 50. She is raising her slain daughter’s son, Zaire Justice Palmer, who was 4 months old when his mother was killed.
“I’m glad things are finally rolling along and we’ll get some kind of justice for our loved ones. It’s been a long, long time, very long time.”
The house party was a charity benefit, to raise money for Boston’s annual Caribbean festival. The victims arrived together, and were preparing to leave in the same car when Pierre and several other men approached them.
Pierre allegedly jumped in a car driven by a friend, Nigel Nichols, and the men sped away, almost causing a crash in the process, as captured on surveillance video, authorities said.
Soon after, Pierre called his girlfriend to pick him up from Nichols’s house, and the girlfriend’s mother purchased a round-trip ticket for Pierre. On April 2, Pierre boarded a plane for Trinidad and Tobago, authorities said.
Several months passed before Pierre was named a suspect, and in January 2010, a grand jury issued an indictment against him and Nichols. Authorities suspected Pierre had fled to the Caribbean, and they issued an advisory through Interpol.
Pierre was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2010 after police there said they found him with marijuana in the town of Diego Martin, where he had been living with his wife, authorities said. The local authorities then discovered that he was wanted on the murder warrant out of Boston.
Pierre and his attorney filed appeal after appeal fighting extradition, prosecutors in Massachusetts said, but this summer, with his last appeal pending, Pierre decided to stop fighting it, and US marshals escorted him back to Boston Friday, according to prosecutors.
Tardif said the prosecutors have targeted an innocent man and have falsely identified him as the principal defendant in the triple murder. Tardif said a key government witness, the person who links Pierre to the killings, is an “alleged criminal’’ whose word cannot be trusted.
Tardif also challenged the government’s assertion that his client fled to Trinidad and Tobago to avoid prosecution. At that time, Pierre was an “event promoter” who flew to the island country for a business opportunity, Tardif said, a claim supported by the fact that he had a round-trip ticket.
Wilson, the trial magistrate, ordered Pierre held without bail.
Nichols, 27, of Brockton, was arrested in connection with the killings, and he was arraigned in January 2010 on a charge of accessory after the fact to murder.
He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $150,000 bail, which was later lowered to $10,000.
He posted bail but was arrested again in October 2011 when Boston police allegedly found him with a loaded .45-caliber handgun. He has been in custody since then, authorities said.