As her murdered 2-year-old daughter’s voice floated across a courtroom in downtown Boston Monday, Rachelle Bond smiled and cried at the same time.
Her reaction was a contradiction, but that is exactly what Rachelle Bond’s version of events, and her role in it, has become.
The voice from the grave came from the cellphone of Michael McCarthy, Rachelle Bond’s live-in boyfriend who is on trial for killing Bella and dumping her body in Boston Harbor in 2015.
The audio recording, offered by McCarthy’s defense, captured an oddly sweet moment in a saga that is sickeningly dark.
Bella had been experiencing nightmares, and McCarthy was offering some paternal advice about how to defeat the monsters that invaded her dreams.
Bella possessed the power to kill the monsters, McCarthy told her.
He told her she could kill the monsters with love and laser beams.
“When they come and get you when you’re sleeping,” McCarthy explained, she could use her thoughts to make the monster’s head blow up.
Bella was delighted.
“You killed them,” McCarthy told her.
“I killed them,” Bella agreed.
“You blew them up,” McCarthy told her. “You’re a big girl.”
“They’re stupid little babies,” Bella agreed.
Her giggle floated from the speaker and her mother sat there on the witness stand, smiling and crying.
In the two days Rachelle Bond has spent testifying, she has been all over the place. At one point, she insisted she could be a good mother while under the influence of heroin. But then it was the heroin that fogged her memory, that made it hard to do the right thing, i.e., go to the police and tell them McCarthy had murdered her child and dumped her body.
Bond testified that she saw McCarthy punch her daughter so hard that Bella bounced off the mattress on her bedroom floor. Bond said that after she futilely administered CPR, McCarthy said he’d kill her if she told anyone he killed Bella. Then, she says, he choked her into unconsciousness. Then, she says, when she woke up he injected her with heroin, which she almost welcomed because she was so upset.
Then, she says, she saw that he had placed her daughter’s body in a green duffle bag in the back seat of his car. But again, when it came to the actual disposal of the body, the driving and the dumping, she had passed out in the front passenger seat, coming to only in time to recognize the area of the South Boston waterfront where McCarthy presumably dumped her.
Then, she says, they went back to her Dorchester apartment and binged on heroin for three months before she finally worked up the nerve to tell the truth.
On Monday, jurors were offered two contradictory scenarios, and the fate of Michael McCarthy rests on which one they’ll believe.
In the first, under the questioning of Suffolk Assistant District Attorney David Deakin, Rachelle Bond insists she decided to come forward when McCarthy had been admitted to Boston Medical Center to treat an abscess and was in no position to control or hurt her.
In the second, a scenario laid out by McCarthy’s lawyer Jonathan Shapiro in cross-examination, she came forward only because Bella’s father, Joey Amoroso, was about to trigger an investigation that would have exposed Bella’s disappearance and show that she was the unidentified Baby Doe who had washed up on Deer Island three months earlier.
The prosecution’s Rachelle Bond was a drug-sick victim, held hostage, at least mentally, by a man she feared.
The defense’s Rachelle Bond was a calculating opportunist, framing McCarthy while minimizing her own culpability once she realized the jig was up.
Shapiro had a field day with the inconsistencies between Rachelle Bond’s initial statement to police and her testimony. The pummeling will resume Tuesday.
In the meantime, we are left with the echoes of the voice of a sweet, innocent, doomed girl who learned how to save herself from imaginary monsters but not real ones.