They had been dating for about six months, were living together in a Dorchester apartment, and spent Saturday night - Valentine’s Day - happily dancing and dining with relatives.
But a few hours after Mario Gonzalez and Luz Forty returned home, Forty’s life violently ended, at the hands of a man who had become obsessed with her, police said.
“He told her if she was going to leave him, she was not going to make it,” Julia Colon, Forty’s sister, said yesterday, recalling a recent conversation she had with her sister. “She didn’t know he was going to do it.”
Yesterday, more than a dozen of Forty’s relatives looked on with quiet anger - and some, with forgiveness - as Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge in Dorchester Municipal Court.
Gonzalez, 29, is accused of stabbing Forty, 38, inside their Ridgewood Street apartment at 3:14 a.m. Sunday - and then calling police. He initially blamed an intruder but later gave a confession in Spanish, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said in court.
Forty was taken to Boston Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, officials said. It was the first domestic violence death reported in Boston this year.
Gonzalez, a native of Guatemala, needed the help of a Spanish interpreter to understand the court proceedings. As he was leaving the courtroom after Judge Rosalind Miller ordered him held without bail, Colon shouted in Spanish, telling him she forgave him.
Later, Colon said she hoped that her sister’s death will serve as a stark warning to other women who hear verbal threats from someone who claims to love them.
“I want to tell all the women out there, if your man, your boyfriend, your brother, whoever, threatens you that they are going to kill you - listen to those words. Because they are going to end up doing it,” Colon said.
She added, “My sister didn’t have a chance to get away from him. She believed he would not do it. And now she is resting in peace. He stabbed her 10 times.
“Run away from that relationship. It’s not healthy.”
Colon and her husband, Josue Colon, said that during a recent dinner with Forty’s father, Gonzalez said that he had killed someone in Guatemala.
Defense attorney Willie J. Davis declined to comment after being told of the family’s description of the couple’s relationship and Gonzalez’s alleged boast that he had killed someone in the past.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and Toni Troop, a spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., which targets domestic violence, both yesterday urged victims of intimate partner violence to reach out for help.
In an emergency, victims are urged to dial 911. In less turbulent moments, people can find help through SafeLink, the statewide domestic violence hot line, at 877-785-2020.
Forty had three daughters and one son, 17-year-old Luis Pellot, who broke into tears yesterday as he told how he had rushed to the hospital to tell his mother one last time that he loved her, but arrived too late.
“She was always there for me, no matter how much trouble I got myself into,” said the Boston public high school student. “I feel so empty.”