When mercy is repaid with mercilessness
At their funeral Mass at Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston on Friday, Richard Field and Lina Bolaños will be remembered as conscientious and compassionate physicians, two people who loved each other, the practice of medicine, and their patients.
For their families and friends, knowing that they died in such a horrific fashion, murdered in the condominium where they had made plans to get married and spend the rest of their lives together, is haunting and hurtful enough.
It is even worse to think that the man charged with their murders might have been in a position to kill them because he was the beneficiary of mercy.
Bampumim Teixeira, who worked for the company that provided security at the complex where the doctors lived, is suspected of using knowledge of that building to gain access and rob the penthouse condo. He is accused of tying up the doctors and murdering them.
Teixeira, 30, was born in Guinea-Bassau and raised in Cape Verde by a woman who later moved to Boston. He was in his 20s when he came to Boston to find her. In 2010, he obtained a green card that made him a legal resident.
Last June, he was arrested for robbing a bank downtown. While being questioned about that robbery, he voluntarily told investigators that he had robbed the same bank in 2014. In both cases, he passed notes to tellers and threatened to shoot people if he wasn’t given money. He never showed a weapon, and FBI agents who were part of the task force that questioned him decided that the offense didn’t rise to the level of a federal prosecution.
So Teixeira’s case was referred to the Suffolk district attorney’s office, specifically to the Boston Municipal Court. Teixeira’s lawyer, Steve Sack, a very capable advocate, negotiated a plea agreement with prosecutors. Sack’s goal was specific: He wanted to structure an agreement that would prevent Teixeira from being made liable to have his green card stripped and become subject to deportation.
Suffolk prosecutors thought the offer — nine months served, with three years of probation — was more than Teixeira would have received from a judge if they had gone to trial and won.
A few defense lawyers I bounced this off agreed: As someone with no record, with no weapon shown, Teixeira would probably have avoided a custodial sentence.
But by reducing the charge from unarmed robbery to larceny, the deal was structured so that Teixeira didn’t have a felony or a conviction for a crime committed within his first five years of receiving a green card, both of which would have triggered possible action by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Judge Lisa Grant signed off on the deal, imposing a sentence one day short of the 365 that could have triggered ICE action.
Grant and Sack declined comment. Jake Wark, a spokesman for District Attorney Dan Conley, said the plea agreement was a reasonable compromise.
Christopher Lavery, an immigration attorney who was not involved in the case, said, “It’s entirely routine for plea agreements to impose 364 days to avoid the more serious immigration consequences.”
Teixeira did his time, and within a few weeks of his release he allegedly murdered Field and Bolaños.
Shawn Neudauer, an ICE spokesman, said he couldn’t comment on Teixeira’s case specifically but said, in general, “If someone holding a green card is convicted of a felony, it’s likely ICE would move to strip him of his green card and move for deportation.”
I’ve been around the block too many times to think anything that happens in the criminal justice system is a sure thing. There’s no guarantee ICE would have detained and deported him.
But the bottom line is the man charged with murdering Field and Bolaños was shown mercy while they were shown none.
And the saddest part is not that how Teixeira’s case was handled is a scandal, but that, in a heaving, overcrowded, Byzantine justice system, it’s routine.