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Adrian Walker

Baby Bella’s case is in good hands

Suffolk assistant district attorney David Deakin (right) conferred with Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Denner, in Suffolk Superior Court in 2009.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

David Deakin has made a distinguished career of prosecuting crimes that many other lawyers might shun, including gut-wrenching cases of child abuse, family violence, and murder.

Over two decades as a prosecutor, mostly in Suffolk County, he has tried some of the city’s most shocking cases of familial misdeeds, including the case of the con man known as Clark Rockefeller. His experience and smarts should serve him well as prosecutor of the “Baby Bella” murder case.

Bella Bond is the toddler who was identified last week, nearly three months after her body washed ashore on Deer Island. Her mother’s boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, is to be arraigned Monday in the Dorchester division of Boston Municipal Court for the girl’s death. Her mother, Rachelle Bond, will also be arraigned, as an accessory after the fact.


It will be up to Deakin to seek justice for the little girl. Law enforcement officials have said Bella was punched in the stomach until she was lifeless. Bond has said that McCarthy claimed the child was “possessed.” Quite a pair, these two.

By title, Deakin is head of the Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau in the DA’s office. He became a specialist in such cases early in his career. After graduating from Harvard Law School — where he played a lot of lunchtime basketball with classmate Barack Obama — he was hired by then-Norfolk District Attorney William Delahunt.

After a few years he was recruited into the Suffolk district attorney’s office, where he is now a trusted member of District Attorney Daniel Conley’s inner circle.

“David is a lawyer who literally could do anything he wanted anywhere he wanted and could be making quite a bit more than he’s earning with me,” Conley said Sunday. “He has the pedigree you see in top law firms — Williams College, Harvard Law School. But he’s chosen to do this work. It’s difficult, it’s emotionally draining. You really need someone of his ability and skill set. His cases involve the most violated, the most wounded, the people who can’t speak for themselves.”


Deakin had been advised that an apprenticeship as a prosecutor was a great way to prepare for what he really wanted to do, criminal defense work. Cerebral and passionate, he quickly came to believe he was more comfortable representing the victims of crime.

“I realized right away I loved this,” Deakin once told me. “I learned that temperamentally I’m better suited to speak for victims than defendants.”

He was fascinated by cases of family violence. Such cases are difficult because, as a rule, they occur in privacy. They often are also rooted in complicated family dynamics. Witnesses have been known to have strong feelings for both the victims and victimized. Deakin is often praised not just for his legal skills but for his exceptional sensitivity.

“I sometimes refer to him as the conscience of our office,” Conley said.

This is an unusual case, not least because of the months that went by before Bella was identified. Because no one knew who the victim was, crucial elements of a murder investigation were effectively on hold. Witnesses have had months to ponder and, perhaps, adjust their stories. In one sense, this investigation is three months old, but as a murder case it is just a few days old.


The arraignment promises to be fascinating — and sad. It’s hard to imagine a victim more in need of someone to speak for her than little Bella. Killed and discarded, eventually dumped in the ocean in a trash bag, she went unidentified all summer, as those who might have been able to identify her decided it was more important to mind their own business. Even hardened law enforcement officials are floored by the sheer misery of this case.

Bella was failed in so many ways. But her story will finally be heard, and Deakin is the right person to tell it. If there is any justice for Bella Bond, he will find it.

Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Adrian_Walker.