BOSTON, Dec. 18, 2013—Shot dead amid a senseless gang feud that has torn Boston’s Cape Verdean community apart, 24-year-old Anthony Depina was remembered today as a basketball standout and “a young man with dreams for his son,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
Depina’s cousin and the mother of his 3-year-old child spoke at a sentencing hearing for Depina’s childhood friend, JASON BARBOSA (D.O.B. 1/8/89), convicted yesterday of first-degree murder in Depina’s cold-blooded slaying last year. Evidence and testimony adduced at trial proved that Barbosa and Depina had grown up as friends, but turned to rivals as they allied themselves with different street gangs.
“Jason Barbosa has been a perpetrator, a victim, and a witness in violent crime after violent crime,” Conley said. “He has been a major player in senseless, gang-related violence for almost a decade. Where he went, gunfire followed. His community will be a safer place with him in prison.”
Depina’s cousin took the witness stand in the courtroom where Barbosa was convicted. Dressed in a dark suit and speaking softly but clearly, he asked the parties and spectators to close their eyes and “think of a moment when you were the happiest. That moment for me was with my cousin, Anthony.”
He recalled night after night playing Depina in basketball – “the game he loved and hated to lose” – and the closeness they shared until the night of Feb. 23, 2012, when Depina was fatally shot in the head and chest.
“That same bullet struck my heart,” Depina’s cousin said. “We lost a piece of ourselves that day. We lost a loving father, a son, a brother, a cousin, a young man with dreams for his son. He left a void that can never, ever be filled.”
The mother of Depina’s child also took the stand, showing the court a large photo of the handsome young man kissing their baby boy.
“My son was so attentive to his dad,” she said, weeping. “He often stares at a picture of his father and admires it …. I always thought my family would grow, but instead it’s gotten smaller.”
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine McEvoy imposed the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder, life in prison without the possibility of parole, after the lead prosecutor recounted Barbosa’s criminal history – 10 years of arrests at and near the scenes of homicides, shootings, assaults, and gun recoveries. Barbosa has himself been shot at least three times in the feud between his Woodward Avenue gang and their Wendover Street rivals, First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan said.
The last of those incidents transpired on Dec. 24, 2011, when friends of Depina from Wendover Street shot Barbosa during a confrontation at a Mobil station in Boston’s South End. Two months later, Depina and Barbosa encountered one another at a bar on Norfolk Avenue in Roxbury. Later that evening, as Depina stood outside, Barbosa drove by in a vehicle that slowed down as it passed him.
“You don’t belong here,” Barbosa said to his one-time friend.
Things escalated even further at about 11:15 p.m., when Depina was leaving the area. After a set of headlights from a nearby car flashed repeatedly in what prosecutors said was a signal, Barbosa approached Depina.
Knowing what would happen next, Depina asked a final question of his one-time friend – “For real, Little J?” – before three shots rang out. Depina suffered two gunshot wounds, one to the head and one to the chest, either of which could have been fatal. He died at the scene.
Prosecutors introduced evidence and testimony to prove Barbosa’s knowing participation in Depina’s murder, either as the shooter or a joint venture. Either way, the evidence showed that he was responsible for Depina’s homicide.
Katherine Moran was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Barbosa was represented by attorney John Galvin.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.