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Man convicted of manslaughter in asthma death

Michael Stallings, 23, hid his face as he was brought in to be arraigned.JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/file

A Dorchester gang member who fired a gun at a crowd on a Boston street in 2012, causing one man to suffer a fatal asthma attack as he ran from the scene, was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter, authorities said.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury returned the verdict against Michael “Fresh” Stallings, 26, after approximately three days of deliberations and a weeklong trial, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

Stallings faces up to 20 years in state prison when he is sentenced, which is expected to happen next week, Wark said. Stallings also was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm but was acquitted of two counts of armed assault with intent to murder, for allegedly firing at two other men in the crowd.

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No one was struck by the gunfire.

Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction for Stallings in the death of Kelvin Rowell, 40, the man who suffered the asthma attack. He fell into a coma and died six weeks after the January 2012 shooting.

A first-degree murder conviction would have carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Rowell’s family could not be reached for comment Monday.

Stephen J. Weymouth, a lawyer for Stallings, said in a phone interview that he will appeal the involuntary manslaughter conviction.

“I thought I proved to the jury beyond any doubt whatsoever that a person other than Michael Stallings shot first,” Weymouth said.

He credited the jury for its diligence but said the manslaughter conviction “doesn’t make any sense, based on the facts of the case and their verdicts on the other charges.”

Prosecutors said Stallings fired a .40 caliber handgun at a group of men standing on Blue Hill Avenue near Supple Road in Dorchester around 8 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2012. Stallings was aiming for members of a rival gang, but Rowell was not affiliated with any gang, prosecutors said.

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Rowell told a friend that he could not breathe as they fled, and he was overtaken by an asthma attack on nearby Pasadena Road, where he slumped over a fence with his tongue swollen and an inhaler in his hand, authorities said.

Rowell’s mother, Frances Rowell-Darden, testified that her son was diagnosed with asthma at age 13 and he used an inhaler. He was taken to Boston Medical Center, where he died on March 5, 2012, Conley’s office said.

“This jury weighed the evidence, found the facts, and applied the law,” Conley said in a statement. “When you open fire on a busy street without warning or provocation, you’re responsible for what happens next.”

Weymouth argued at trial that another man, Luis Bodden-Maximo, was responsible for Rowell’s death because he fired first. Prosecutors described Bodden-Maximo as a gang member who returned fire that night, and one of the indictments against Stallings identified Bodden-Maximo as a victim.

Bodden-Maximo could not be reached for comment Monday. He has not been charged in connection with Rowell’s death.

Asked why Bodden-Maximo has not been charged, Wark said in an e-mail that “the evidence suggests that Mr. Rowell was fleeing [Stallings’s] barrage of gunfire when he suffered his fatal asthma attack. It was the defendant whose actions caused Mr. Rowell to run, suffer an asthma attack, and ultimately die.”

Prosecutors said a GPS monitor that Stallings wore at the time of the shooting placed him at the scene, and he was arrested in August 2012 with a gun that matched ballistics evidence at Blue Hill Avenue and Pasadena Road.

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Conley’s office said in a statement that Stallings was indicted in January 2013 after “an exhaustive grand jury investigation that featured testimony from multiple civilian witnesses.”


Evan Allen, Laura Crimaldi, and John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.