BOSTON, Jan. 27, 2016—More than a decade after he took Julaine Jules’ life in a crime of domestic violence, the longtime suspect in her homicide pleaded guilty to murder and accepted a life sentence, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
During a hearing this morning in Suffolk Superior Court, SHABAZZ AUGUSTINE (D.O.B. 2/19/79) waived all his appellate rights and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for luring Jules to his home, asphyxiating her, dumping her body in the Charles River, and setting fire to her car near the Malden/Revere line. Judge Jeffrey Locke imposed the mandatory sentence for that offense, life in prison with the possibility of a parole hearing after 15 years.
“Julaine’s family has waited patiently for this day for more than a decade,” Conley said. “The impression they made on all of us was visible in the courtroom, where almost every State and Boston police investigator ever assigned to the case was present. Their first victim-witness advocate, now an attorney in private practice, made the trip to sit by their side. They are people of strength, grace, and unshakable faith, and I hope they find some peace in this unequivocal admission of guilt.”
Augustine’s murder plea capped off the case’s long and complex procedural history. Though Jules was first the subject of a missing persons investigation in Boston, her body – bound, wrapped in plastic, and weighted down – was recovered from the Cambridge side of the Charles River and the investigation was initially led by State Police detectives assigned to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office.
That investigation, however, developed evidence that Jules was killed in Augustine’s Dorchester home, and in 2011 Conley approved a complaint charging him with murder. The Boston Police Fugitive and Apprehension Team took Augustine into custody on June 29 of that year as Suffolk prosecutors, Boston Police homicide detectives, and the BPD Cold Case squad continued to gather facts and evidence.
In 2012, Augustine filed a motion that would have precluded jurors from learning of cell tower records showing Augustine’s presence near the site where Jules’ vehicle was set ablaze and other locations relevant to the investigation. Though State Police detectives obtained the records under the prevailing law at the time, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders granted the order.
Suffolk prosecutors appealed that decision to the Supreme Judicial Court, which vacated it in 2014. The high court also set a new standard requiring a search warrant to obtain such evidence, and remanded the for a hearing on whether the affidavit filed by State Police investigators showed the probable cause necessary for such a warrant.
After a hearing that same year, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Peter Krupp found that the detailed, 10-page affidavit did not support a finding of probable cause. Suffolk prosecutors appealed that decision, and the SJC again reversed it, finding that it offered “significant support” for the conclusion that Augustine set fire to Jules’ car “and implicates him in the murder, as well.”
The SJC also rejected Augustine’s claim that he was owed $12,000 in attorneys’ fees for representation by the American Civil Liberties Association of Massachusetts, despite the undisputed fact that the ACLUM “never intended to charge, and in fact did not charge, the defendant any fee for their services.”
Had the case proceeded to trial, prosecutors would have introduced evidence and testimony to prove that Augustine and Jules, who lived in Malden at the time of her death, had a dating relationship in the summer of 2004. Augustine learned that Jules had seen another man, however, and concocted a ruse that led her to visit him on Aug. 24 of that year. Jules was last seen leaving her Fort Point workplace at about 7:00 p.m., and evidence would have shown that she drove to his Dorchester home.
The evidence would have shown that Augustine asphyxiated her, wrapped her body in plastic, and encumbered it with free weights from a weightlifting set. Using Jules’ car, he drove her body to the Cambridge side of the Charles River, dumped her in the water, and drove to the Revere/Malden border, where he set fire to the vehicle. He then took public transportation back home.
Over the course of the next several days, weeks, and months, Augustine made a number of incriminating statements to people who were close to him, including admissions that he had killed Jules, but it was not until years after her death that police and prosecutors were able to obtain them in the course of the Suffolk County Grand Jury investigation.
As a result of that critical evidence, Augustine was charged with murder in Dorchester Municipal Court on June 30, 2011. He has been held without bail since that time.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Lee, deputy chief of the DA’s Homicide Unit, prosecuted the case. Assistant District Attorney Cailin Campbell of the DA’s Appellate Division argued the Commonwealth’s case before the SJC. Jassie Senwah and Eliana Builes were the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocates. Augustine was represented by attorney Steven Sack.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.