BOSTON, May 7, 2014—On the day their homicide trial was scheduled to begin, two Boston men today admitted guilt rather than face a jury in the 2011 shooting death of 25-year-old Willie Marquis Turner, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
JOSE MERCADO (D.O.B. 11/11/93) of Jamaica Plain and PRINCE DENIS (D.O.B. 11/7/90) of Dorchester pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm, and witness intimidation. The defendants changed their pleas just as they were scheduled to begin selecting a jury for their trial on charges of first-degree murder. Judge Dianne Kottmyer sentenced Mercado to 19 to 20 years in state prison followed by four years of probation and Denis to 15 years in prison followed by four years of probation.
Had the case proceeded to trial, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Hickman of the DA’s Homicide Unit would have presented evidence and testimony to prove that the defendants shared responsibility for Turner’s fatal shooting near a flagpole on Bunker Hill Street shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2011. Denis and Mercado then ran to an apartment in the Bunker Hill Housing Development, where they made statements implicating themselves in the murder, the evidence would have shown. Days later, the men threatened individuals they believed could implicate them in Turner’s homicide.
There were no witnesses to the shooting, prosecutors acknowledged, and the murder weapon was never recovered. The case went uncharged for more than a year while Boston Police homicide detectives followed leads on the street and Suffolk prosecutors called witness after witness into the Suffolk County Grand Jury.
In June 2012, Denis and Mercado were arrested on gun and drug charges in connection with Operation Tourniquet, a Charlestown-based sweep based on a series of coordinated undercover buys by Boston Police detectives and FBI special agents assigned to the investigation. In January 2013, after additional testimony before the grand jury, both men were indicted on charges of first-degree murder.
Katherine Moran was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Mercado was represented by attorney Daniel Solomon and Denis by Matthew Feinberg.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.